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ASU denies claims made by student

School says religious beliefs were not the issue

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Augusta State University officials said it's not a graduate student's religious beliefs, but her refusal to work toward being able to counsel homosexual clients that is threatening her standing in the school's counseling program, according to court documents filed Monday.

Jennifer Keeton: Student was not told she must change her beliefs, Augusta State University said in a court filing.   Special
Special
Jennifer Keeton: Student was not told she must change her beliefs, Augusta State University said in a court filing.

The filing states that Jennifer Keeton must demonstrate her ability to counsel all clients, including the homosexual and transgender population, in order to graduate.

The response is the school's first legal answer since Keeton filed a lawsuit July 21 alleging that she was facing expulsion from the counseling program based on her religious beliefs and her refusal to complete "a thought-reform remediation plan."

In an e-mail cited in the suit, ASU assistant professor Dr. Paulette Schenck told Keeton "the faculty did not expect (her) to change (her) personal beliefs and values."

"(T)he unethical part (was) applying your own personal beliefs and values on other people and not truly accepting that others can have different beliefs and values that are equally valid as your own."

Keeton is a graduate student in ASU's K-12 school counseling program, which requires students to adhere to a neutral code of ethics.

The university's response explains that ASU professors asked Keeton to complete a remediation plan after she wrote in a term paper regarding the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, or GLBT, community that "it would be hard (for her) to work with this population."

Keeton also told fellow student Justin C. Earnest that she would tell gay clients "their behavior is morally wrong and then help the client change that behavior," according to an affidavit by Earnest included in the school's filing.

The remediation plan required Keeton to attend counseling workshops, read counseling journals regarding the GLBT community, increase her exposure to the gay population and write reflections on what she was learning.

The university's legal filings did not directly address Keeton's contention that she was told to attend a gay pride parade as part of the remediation plan.

Members of ASU's faculty also were concerned with Keeton's support of conversion therapy for homosexuals, which the American Counseling Association's ethics committee has concluded "may harm clients."

In her lawsuit, Keeton said the remediation plan "subjects her to aggressive ideological instruction" and asks that she "change her beliefs."

Keeton said she would like to continue her education in the counseling program without fear that the school "will punish her for her religious views" and her "unwillingness to change or abandon those views."

But university officials said if they exempted Keeton from counseling homosexual clients, they would also have to exempt those opposed to war from counseling soldiers.

"The same curriculum would require an atheist student counselor to competently counsel a deeply religious client," the filing said. "A staunch feminist student counselor is required to competently counsel clients from male dominated cultures ... the common thread being that all counselors are required to keep separate their own belief system from the counseling relationship."

The suit also points to a U.S. District Court judge's recent opinion in a similar case, Ward v. Wilbanks.

In the July 2010 ruling, a judge upheld Eastern Michigan University's decision to dismiss a student who refused to counsel a homosexual student or participate in a remediation plan.

University officials said that if the court moves forward with Keeton's case it could affect the school's accreditation and other students' degrees.

What's Next?

Jennifer Keeton has asked the federal court to force the college to drop its requirement that she complete the remediation plan. The U.S. District Court in Augusta scheduled a hearing on her request for a preliminary injunction at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

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JusticeForEva
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JusticeForEva 08/10/10 - 01:41 am
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And let the Christians and

And let the Christians and the "We are being persecuted" posts begin...again.

If your religion is so intolerant that you cannot even talk to someone who lives differently than you, perhaps you shouldn't be attending a secular guidance counseling program. Do you have the right to disagree that gravity is real? Of course, disagree away. But if on the test, you don't give the answer that was taught to you, well you have the right to fail the test.

Kudos to ASU stick to your guns and to whomever judge rules on this case please throw it out. We have better things that our legal system could be focusing on...

JusticeForEva
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JusticeForEva 08/10/10 - 01:45 am
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You can't turn a gay person

You can't turn a gay person straight. She is incorrect in her belief that it is a choice, because it's not. I didn't wake up one say and say, hmmmmm I think I'll like girls from now on. It's just the way a person is. Being gay in the US is so complicated, who would choose that?? Who would choose rejection and confusion?? Gay teens need support when they realize they are gay, not rejection from their counselor, not to change who they are but to accept and love themselves. And it's not all about sex! I realized I was gay at 14, I wasn't even thinking about sex, but that intimate emotional connection between two people who care about each other, a connection I've never experienced with a guy, but naturally comes with a girl. She's just wrong in how she perceives gay people, that it's a conscious choice that can be changed, and her counseling a gay teenager with that mindset is really gonna mess that kid up.

Suzy Q
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Suzy Q 08/10/10 - 02:27 am
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Justiceforeva, I'm not gay,

Justiceforeva, I'm not gay, but have close friends and family members who are, and I agree with you completely. It's not a choice, it's who someone is, and for the thumping crowd to dismiss the rights of two consenting adults (I say this to get ahead of the idiots who wish to draw parallels between being gay and pedophilia, bestiality,etc.) because it is against their religious beliefs is ridiculous.

Letting that young woman proceed with her plans to counsel kids on how morally 'wrong' they are, or attempt to convert them would be irresponsible and reprehensible. She is entitled to her religious views, but she is NOT entitled to pass judgement on those who don't share them.

I think her plans on using her future position to subject children to this treatment says a lot about her character, and none of it is good.

JusticeForEva
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JusticeForEva 08/10/10 - 02:38 am
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I know I hate the pedophilia

I know I hate the pedophilia argument. It would NEVER EVER happen because kids are MINORS and not ADULTS and therefore unable to consent to marrying anyone legally. Besides even if some idiot were to try to to attempt something like this I'm sure 99% of public would say otherwise. As for bestiality again it's not a human but an animal that can't even speak or eat or do anything remotely like a human. Therefore it would never be able to consent to a marriage either. Besides I don't really see any pedophiles or people who like bestality petitioning for marriage rights anyways. So really I don't think you have to worry about that. As for the plural marriage argument...again if it's 3 CONSENTING ADULTS and they are HAPPY whats it to you? You don't have to live with them or even be around them. But to deny them the right to be with whomever they want to be with just because your religion says it's wrong is wrong. No one is denying your right to marriage and having a 50/50 chance of it ending in divorce which also a sin too. You want to protect the sanctity of marriage then outlaw divorces. You straight people take it for granted. Instant-weddings in Vegas prove this...especially when most get dissolved within 48 hours. Yet I could have someone I love in my life that I've been with for years and I cannot marry her. It's a shame. I guess I'll have to move to Iceland or Argentina or Spain for that. Land of the Free, really?

omnomnom
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omnomnom 08/10/10 - 02:45 am
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"a thought-reform remediation

"a thought-reform remediation plan"... Oooweee! Thats SCARY sounding! Like.. some 1984 jank. C'mon Dixieman, make another plight for more of Keeton's pics. Or can't you just find her on Facebook?

sjgraci
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sjgraci 08/10/10 - 03:09 am
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Just another publicity stunt

Just another publicity stunt by the far religious right who are going to lose big in court, again. You don't like the way things are done in your chosen field Ms. Keeton, first become a tenured member of that field and change it through peer reviewed and accepted research instead of through the courts.

Asitisinaug
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Asitisinaug 08/10/10 - 03:12 am
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Another frivilous lawsuit

Another frivilous lawsuit based on eronioius information by someone trying to get their 15 minutes of fame. Disgraceful.

MajorPaul
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MajorPaul 08/10/10 - 03:53 am
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ASU assistant professor Dr.

ASU assistant professor Dr. Paulette Schenck is a total hypocrite if she tells Jennifer Keeton she must demonstrate her ability to counsel all clients, including the homosexual and transgender population, in order to graduate. Well, that is unless her department also teaches students that they must accept things such as incestuous relationships as perfectly normal.
If Ms Schenck would not counsel a brother and sister who have a sexual relationship their behavior is morally wrong and then help the client change that behavior, she is putting gay people in a special class, and as a counselor she is not treating all of her clients the same way.
This same concept applies to any behavioral issue.
Does the ASU counseling program also teach their students to tell an alcoholic they do not need to modify their behavior? How about a pedophile? At least with alcoholism and pedophilia there is actual hard scientific research that the undesirable behavior is genetic and not a chosen behavior.
The ASU counseling school needs to get its act together! They can not cherry pick which behaviors they accept as normal, and which ones go into the unacceptable behavior category.
Given what I know of the school and what they teach I certainly would never send a troubled person to them for counseling.

Fundamental_Arminian
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Fundamental_Arminian 08/10/10 - 04:26 am
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"In an e-mail cited in the

"In an e-mail cited in the suit, ASU assistant professor Dr. Paulette Schenck told Keeton 'the faculty did not expect (her) to change (her) personal beliefs and values.

"'(T)he unethical part (was) applying your own personal beliefs and values on other people and not truly accepting that others can have different beliefs and values that are equally valid as your own'" (article).

I can't help wondering what the word valid means in this email. Here is how the word is defined in the Farlex Free Dictionary:

"1. Well grounded; just: a valid objection.

"2. Producing the desired results; efficacious: valid methods.

"3. Having legal force; effective or binding: a valid title.

"4. Logic

"a. Containing premises from which the conclusion may logically be derived: a valid argument.

"b. Correctly inferred or deduced from a premise: a valid conclusion.

"5.Archaic Of sound health; robust."

I remember from logic that the word valid doesn't always mean "true" or "sound," as in this syllogism:

1. All apples are red (major premise).

2. The object inside this paper bag is an apple (minor premise).

3. The object must be red (conclusion).

This syllogism, I was told, is valid because the major and minor premises lead logically to the conclusion; however, the syllogism is not sound or true, because the major premise is false since not all apples are red.

The idea of having contradictory, but equally valid, beliefs and values sounds so subjective, so unscientific. How can a valid, but erroneous, belief be ultimately good for anyone?

johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 08/10/10 - 06:11 am
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I wonder how many gays in the

I wonder how many gays in the counseling program were required to undergo conversion therapy so they'd feel more comfortable counseling straight people?

There's no doubt that the wise thing for Ms Keeton to do here would have been to remain mute on this subject, however, expressing personal doubts about certain abilities is definitely not refusal to act in a competent manner.

I suspect the schools support of the "remediation treatment" for Christians to readjust their "exposure to gays" is going to be difficult to support outside of academia. This narrow "treatment" seems to aim only at Christian students who don't remain silent on the subject.

The courts will have to decide.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 08/10/10 - 06:28 am
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Major Paul, I have to agree

Major Paul, I have to agree with your post. I'm wondering if Ms. Keeton is forced to associate herself with the gay community to try and get a better understanding and she completes all the remediation classes and her belief stays the same that homosexuality is wrong, will they graduate her. She completed the courses but they are saying she doesn't have to change her religious beliefs. If she encounters a homosexual student who wants affirmation that his/her lifestyle is okay....how is Ms. Keeton suppose to respond to this? If she says it's okay, she is a liar...if she says in her opinion it's wrong...she's fired. Those that are patting themselves on the back and thinking they have won....please tell me what this young ladies response should be.

thyroxin
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thyroxin 08/10/10 - 06:48 am
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A secular university !!now

A secular university !!now what else is there. we have anti discrmination laws..so miss keaton did not know this?...or is this another ploy from the folks that r so in love with the party of NOOOO to exercise their usual stunts of fooling the stupid with jesus abortion gays and illegals AND rasism all things that have existed since the beginning of man kind to divert from their tax evasion and stealing the country blind....Perhaps she is getting paid by the heritage foundation lol someone should really look into this

thyroxin
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thyroxin 08/10/10 - 06:59 am
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Well i read that being overly

Well i read that being overly religious! and/or rasist! is now viewed by the medical comunity as great first signs of mental illness....the girl looks nuts sorry.

johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 08/10/10 - 07:10 am
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So, if Ms Keeton became a

So, if Ms Keeton became a secular homosexual promoter then she'd be a qualified counselor? I feel shivas and thyroxin may have a biased opinion and need to resort to personal insult to make a silly point.

lsmith
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lsmith 08/10/10 - 07:16 am
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justiceforeeva: your
Unpublished

justiceforeeva: your statement that you cannot turn a gay person straight is unfounded conjecture, one that gays and gay supporters love to conjure up for a first defense. There have been more cases of reversion than can be recounted here. The actress Anne Heche is a prime example. Had a long relationship with Ellen Degeneres and they planned to marry when it became legal. Then, what happened, she dropped the gay lifestyle and has been with a man ever since even giving birth. A successful tranformation if there ever was one. Many more are out there, and many who just claim "BISEXUAL" which of course, means they're really confused but just want to have fun with whomever is game.

thyroxin
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thyroxin 08/10/10 - 07:24 am
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reversion like that haggart

reversion like that haggart guy lol big evangelical doing drugs and homosexual prostitudes when his church was not in session ...and is now healed he said he went to christian counseling!!just like THAT lol

themaninthemirror
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themaninthemirror 08/10/10 - 08:12 am
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If just counseling someone

If just counseling someone that their lifestyle is wrong would change them, we wouldn't need prisons, would we?

jiclemens
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jiclemens 08/10/10 - 08:22 am
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To repeat sjgaci for the

To repeat sjgaci for the WILLFULLY IGNORANT BIGOTS OUT THERE:

"Just another publicity stunt by the far religious right who are going to lose big in court, again. You don't like the way things are done in your chosen field Ms. Keeton, first become a tenured member of that field and change it through peer reviewed and accepted research instead of through the courts."

HTN007
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HTN007 08/10/10 - 08:26 am
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"The university's legal

"The university's legal filings did not directly address Keeton's contention that she was told to attend a gay pride parade as part of the remediation plan.".........

swinter05
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swinter05 08/10/10 - 08:32 am
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I'm baffled at the part in

I'm baffled at the part in the story that says an athiest must counsel a religious person as well. HUH? That doesn't make any sense whatsoever; an athiest has no belief system. That is a perfect argument as to the validity of her case. She can't effectively counsel a homosexual in an approving manner if she doesn't KNOW HOW and it's against all she knows to be true. Just as an athiest could not begin to counsel a Christian about morals and beliefs....he has nothing to reference, just his own thinking. So is the conclusion that counselors basically need to tell people what they want to hear, instead of actually helping them? And remember, just because it's not what you want to hear, doesn't mean it's not helpful or done out of love for the person. I pray that God's will be done in this case and whatever the outcome, I know it will be used for your purpose Lord.

baronvonreich
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baronvonreich 08/10/10 - 08:33 am
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As I have told the

As I have told the close-minded time and time again, ASU never mentioned religion nor asked Ms. Keeton to change her religious views or personal beliefs and values. Religious persecution is only a figment of Ms. Keeton's imagination and those who are intolerant to the fact that standards and ethics of counseling along with many other instituitons/professions in America can not and will not tolerate the bigotry, hate and misguided ideology of religious zealots.

Republicant
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Republicant 08/10/10 - 08:41 am
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Swinter, you believe that an

Swinter, you believe that an athiest has no reference point on morals?
Wow.
That's just ignorant.

cleanup
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cleanup 08/10/10 - 08:42 am
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Her Adam's Apple says she

Her Adam's Apple says she doth protest too much.

Republicant
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Republicant 08/10/10 - 08:44 am
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An athiest may not share your

An athiest may not share your belief system, but that does not mean they don't have a moral compass.
It just does not require the superstitious threat of an eternity in hell to get that athiest to do the right thing.

swinter05
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swinter05 08/10/10 - 08:48 am
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That's exactly my point, if

That's exactly my point, if I'm a Christian, you are supposed to counsel me from my belief system (the Bible), not from your moral compass.

baronvonreich
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baronvonreich 08/10/10 - 08:53 am
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So swinter doesn't think

So swinter doesn't think atheists believe in anything, have no morals or beliefs, have nothing to reference (because I guess he thinks atheists don't read any books nor have read the Bible or others religious books nor have studied religions).......wow ignorance is bliss I suppose.

swinter05
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swinter05 08/10/10 - 08:55 am
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It doesn't appear, clean up

It doesn't appear, clean up that they have ran off ALL of the liberals or those that at least support the gay lifestyle. Look, I love everyone, I'm not on here for an arguement. All arguement ceases when we look to the only one who has ever uttered nothing but TRUTH. It can only be found in the Bible, which is God's inspired word. It is not the feelings you have when you are gay, everyone struggles with temptations...pornography, lust (there are feelings attached to all kinds of things). It's what you CHOOSE to do with those feelings as to whether it actually becomes a sin. Jesus has come so that no one may be confused any longer. If we look and study God's word, we will see that He is the ONLY ONE that has our best interest at heart.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 08/10/10 - 09:00 am
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"not only will she be

"not only will she be confronted with homosexuals ..she will be confronted with pregnant teens that seek abortions ....perhaps other sexual issues she may not agree with other religions she may not agree with " posted by thyroxin

So I gathered by your post that you approve of the homosexual lifestyle, and with teens getting abortions. These are things that most of society would prefer did not exist but since they do, it is expected of all counselors to approve of this behavior because they have to keep the opinion to themselves. So if they disapprove but have to keep it to themselves, then the next logic step would be to give the appearance of approve for the behavior. If someone is looking for affirmation, you either give the appearance of approve or disapprove. What is next on the list? How about suicide. You have a young person come in, tells you he/she is contemplating suicide....oh the choices...do I tell the student that this is wrong or do I let him/her think I approve. What if the student says he/she wants to pack up and leave home and never speak to his/her parents again, they don't feel loved....Hmmm...do I approve of the action or disprove of the action....

I understand that the counselors job is to talk the situation through with the student, offer pros and cons, but you can not tell me that all counselors present a strong advocate for which ever route they believe the student should take. What is the difference in telling a student it is wrong to cheat, wrong to steal, wrong to lie, wrong to disobey, wrong to take drugs, wrong to drink alchohol, than it is to tell a student it is wrong to have an abortion or be involved in the gay lifestyle. The only difference is there are individuals who think abortion and homosexuality is okay.

swinter05
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swinter05 08/10/10 - 09:04 am
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I didn't say you don't read

I didn't say you don't read books, blah, blah, blah. That's the problem with people that don't interpret things correctly (as is done with the Bible many times from you all). I said you could not effectivel counsel me in the Christian faith if you are not a Christian. In order to do so, you must #1 pray that the Lord gives you the right things to say before each session, #2 reference the Bible and correct passages that would be appropriate to my situation, #3 pray with me frequently and hold me accountable. NONE of those can be done without a belief in Jesus Christ. Anyone can say anything, but in order for it to be EFFECTIVE, it must come from the heart and must be biblically based. The only morals there are, can only be found in the Bible. It is the reference as to how we are to live life and serve Him.

DonLaakso
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DonLaakso 08/10/10 - 09:06 am
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What concerns me the most

What concerns me the most here in this particular situation is that ASU wants Ms Keaton to undergo "Though-Reform Remediation". This is nothing but plain old reprogramming just as the North Koreans do to their people. In other words, just another form of brainwashing.

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