Eschew Obfuscation - Espouse Elucidation

Freedom of Speech Doesn't Ensure Freedom After Speech
FEBRUARY 13, 2012 2:30AM

Of "We" and "They"

Rate: 15 Flag
 
The bane of humanity is this continued "we" and "they" mindset. There is no "we" and there is no "they".... there is only "us". The separating of us into opposing factions causes us to fear and fault-find the portion of "us" now designated as "they." We foolishly attribute all evil to "them" and all good to "we." 

Who the "we" and the "they" are  is irrelevant. The "they" might be people of a different class, or a different country, or a different gender, or a different age, or a different colour, or different politics, or different religions/no religion, or whatever. We have trained ourselves to see the "different" in others, rather than the "us" in them. 

So long as this mindset prevails in our philosophies of life and good and right, so long shall we be at each other's throats out of "fear and loathing and sickness unto death"* of "they."

Those who've bought into the concept of the evil "other" fail to notice that the "evil" of that "other" is largely imaginary. "They" are, as are "we," of a different viewpoint as to how life is and/or how it ought to be. "Their" viewpoint is just as legitimate to them as is the viewpoint of "we" to those of our group. "We" stoutly defend our right to have our point of view respected while, at the same time, making every effort to deny the "they" any right to have their point of view respected. We forget that respect is a two-way street. 

Although quite understandable in a world where this mindset predominates, I deplore the continuous attempts of each side to gain and/or maintain dominance over "they." I deplore that each side finds it necessary to demonize the other. I deplore the hatred and the distancing of one human being from another that this mindset fosters.

But, most of all, I deplore how we humans are such a long, long distance from resolving this horrible dichotomy; how far we have yet to go to become even moderately mature as  a race, and how we usually  make no attempt to do so at all. 

Of course we don't..... How could we hate the "other" if we did that?

*(Soren Kierkegard)

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Ah, Margaret, don't you get enough kisses on your sweet blog? Now you're out pandering for them on Skypixie0's blog?
If a lion is hunting you down for dinner, no matter how sympathetic you may be for the lion's distress, a certain philosophical distance seems proper. If a drug company or a health insurance corporation intent on monstrous profits is preventing your relief from pain or cancer or some other distress, It is most difficult to take their point of view with enthusiasm.
A perfect message for our polarized days and rated. Unfortunately, we humans are hard wired to be tribal creatures so tolerance doesn't come easy, but it can be achieved. R
Gerald,
You may be right that we are "hard wired" to be tribal creatures. I see no problem there; we need only learn to assume that all other humans are members of the "us" tribe. Either you or I could make a much better argument to support that position than anyone can make to support the concept of "differences" overshadowing similarities in relative importance.
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There are, of course, all varieties of humor. A gentle request to a pharma corporation to reconsider their profit motive will no doubt provoke gales of wild laughter in their corporate headquarters.

All my close relatives are dead and I have barely enough to pay my rent these days and buy an occasional head of broccoli. In my life, the concept of investment is a wild fantasy.
Jan,
In a society where lack of consideration or respect for "them" is practiced almost as a religion, you can expect little more. I long to see us develop a society based on reason and mutual respect. But then I tend to have a lot of these fantasies about humans growing up and acting like adults.
I tend to have less sympathy for those who played the dog-eat-dog game and ended up being the dog that got eaten than I do for those who never got a seat in the game and were ALWAYS on the menu.
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We really liked this...but I am not sure about THEM. ; 0 )
At my age there is no possibility of my contributing in any way to human society so every extra effort and financial resource I have is devoted to trying to get about two hundred wild ducks through this nasty winter. They are my "we" plus any living creature, human or otherwise, merely trying to survive. Not having supernatural powers I am at somewhat at a disadvantage to the vagaries of chance and the total disregard of nature. It is a stubborn insanity born, no doubt, from my basic protoplasm and humanity in general has wandered so faraway from my rather grotesque sense of values that I consider them a lost cause.
Jan,
Your, "200 ducks plus any living creature, human or otherwise, merely trying to survive", would seem to me to be a huge chunk of the animal kingdom and about 99.9% of the human population! And then, of course, we mustn't forget your contribution here on OS. Not one I always agree with, but a contribution nonetheless.
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If you're not with my cult you must be against my cult!!
No how no way am I going to comment other than; I've read this, enjoyed it and rated it.
Margaret, I too try to get people to notice me, hence today's blog post asking people to just stop by and say hi,

http://open.salon.com/blog/phyllis45/2012/02/13/hi_all

Fell free to wave! I promise to wave first.
Doubtless being liked is a boost to the ego but in reaching out to the intricacy of the world and penetrating its mysteries and finding common cause with many creatures, human and otherwise, one extends one's common sympathies in a wide range of ways that is not always in concordance with social mores. My simple deep feeling of empathy with all living things merely struggling to exist has evoked, at least to me, hugely surprising negative attitudes by people in my community. I had assumed, since i live in Helsinki with, at best, a very crude accomplishment with the language, that my involvement with the small creatures in a nearby woods would be pretty much ignored. It as amazed me to discover the open animosity, sometimes implicating possible violence, evoked when I am caught feeding small birds and squirrels. At that point my desire to be liked is far overwhelmed by my innate love of small creatures. I really don't give a damn about being liked anymore. Popularity, at least with me, has very strong limits.
Margaret, OMG. Is your daughter home schooling now?

Jan, what would the people of Helsinki have against tiny woodland creatures? 'Tis most odd.

Sky, I seem to have taken over your comment section. Hope you're having a wonderful day!
I have been walking the woodland areas for years and seen no rats. These people are paranoid about rats. There are no rats or they disguise themselves as squirrels.
I disagree. If you accept this way of thinking, then you would have to accept if only we had gotten to know Hitler a little bit better, and learned his story, he would not be the great evil unfathomable Other of modern history and the world. As for the present-day, there is indeed a They, and it is Evil, and it is Us.
rate
I have to agree with Dr. Lee. In spite of the probability that Hitler did not think of himself as evil, there is little doubt his most dynamic activities could hardly be thought of as good. But it should also be considered that evil is a rather theological term. Just plain stupid seems to me to be better.
Lee,
What a silly and puerile attempt at a "straw man" argument that is. You, if you actually have a doctorate in anything, certainly know better than that. Did you really think that I'd take up your straw man and try to argue that Hitler was a poor misunderstood good German boy? Get a brain, sir, then see if you can't learn how to use it.
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Jan,
I'm surprised at you! Getting sucked in by an obvious straw man like that!
Read Lee's comment again then go back and read my blog. Tell me then, if you will be so good, just what his comment has to do with what I am saying.
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sky - Ah, but you see, it is not a straw argument, but rather one of elasticity. How far would you stretch this Global Humanism? If not Hitler, then who else is not covered by it?

Again, there is a They, it is Evil, and it is Us.
Ah Sky! This is getting delightfully fractious. Rolling out the old open contempt, snorting and wheezing that we are all of one construction and yet rearing and screaming that we violently disagree is, if nothing else, outrageously humorous. A real Punch and Judy event. The world, well spiced with brilliant people, nevertheless is overwhelmed these days with the flavors of religious maniacs, boobomaniac pseudo-philosophers, total asshole politicians, thugs and thieves of infinite variety and resounds each microsecond with the screams of horror and pain and frustrations of ordinary innocents assailed on all sides by artificial and natural monsters. And you assert I am one with these? I doubt head soaking will remedy your confusion.
Lee,
Repeating your nonsense line at the end of each comment does little to impress anyone.

And adding a second straw man to your first is just plain idiotic. Where did I ever claim to be a humanist?
..... and NO, I still will not discuss Hitler or any other individual figure whom you or your group deem to be, or have been, "evil".

You know perfectly well that group behavioural patterns and solutions to the problems that arise from them are totally irrelevant when applied to individuals. Would you next ask me to catch a mouse with a bear trap?
.
Jan,
Holy shit! Have you two a box full of straw men you mean to drop in here?

Where in hell did I ever claim that "we are all of one construction"?!!!

Look sir, if it pleases you to support a doctrine of dividing into groups who hate each other because of a few differences rather than respect each other because of our common humanness, then just say so. Don't try to twist my words into shapes I did not create with them.

Both you and Lee have used alternate words and concepts for what you think I said. Stop that please. The words you used were available to me too. I chose not to use them because they do not clearly represent theidea I wished to express, They can also be used a the foundation of an argument that I do not wish to have since it does not represent my thinking although it appears to represent yours.

If you, as you appear to be saying, think that it is better for us to be split into artificial opposing groups and set to fighting each , than it is to realize that this sort of "divide and conquer" is supported by the fanatics and "death before I talk to them others" nut bars of this world, then fine. Just have the intestinal fortitude to say so. Don't try to twist my words so they fit in your "one-sided" box. They don't and they never will.

You seem to be acting as apologists for those who see personal gain in setting us at each other's throats - those "leaders" and "wanna-be leaders," who care not what becomes of us so long as they get to rule.
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I have re-read your original post and perhaps am confused as to what you want to say. I would appreciate clarification. Exactly what is the "they" you claim i should find common cause with? Is it the scoundrels who are bleeding the treasury for the swindles they have performed and are still performing on the US and European governments? Is it the bristling grotesque military forces that are raping, crippling and murdering throughout the world wholesale to stuff the coffers of the corporate overlords? Is it the various industries poisoning the world with chemicals and radioactivity for gobs of profit? Are you imperceptive enough to accuse me of these stupid brutalities? Maybe I don't get it. Where is my common cause with this?
How about dignity and respect,Sir???
You are lacking it severely!!!
Jan,
I have not said that you "should find common cause with" anyone. I have said that they, like we, are part of the human race. What they do effects us - what we do effects them. I have said that when we put our common humanness ahead of our differences, we will see that "they" are part of the common "us" that all human beings are part of. Can you not put aside your exaggerated hatred for "they" and understand that those things supposedly done by them which you so dislike, are grossly exaggerated by your "we" and bear little resemblance to reality? Can you not see that separating yourself off together with a "we" cuts you off from having any influence on the behaviour and thinking of "they"? Can you not see that "they" think of your group in exactly the same terms that you think of them?

Most of all can you not see that a little growing up on all "sides" is necessary if "us" are ever to cease this endless artificial war upon our
fellow man? There is no "fault" that "they" have, that "we" don't have. There is no "good" that "we" have that "they" also do not have. Put your halo aside for a moment and consider how much better off we'd ALL be, if we would stop this silly childish bickering and get down to building a society that would serve us all better than the mess all of "us" have to live in now.
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I wonder how you propose to counter the immense damages that these forces I have described by not openly and vigorously opposing them. I cannot understand what you propose as a viable dynamic agenda. You seem to characterize my horror the frightful goings on as some sort of insane psychic reaction. What is your plan? I see only a kind of goofy fantasy in your attitude with no intelligent force behind it. No sensible agenda. This hatred of mine for world destruction seems offensive to you. Are you in favor of it?
Jan,
I came to you with no great manifesto of how to change the world. I suggest that we might begin to do better in our dealings with "the other" by including him as a fellow human being with all the strengths, goodness and weakness & evil that lives in "we" also.

I'm certainly not trying to start another "group" dedicated to a "plan" for change. What you seem to want is more of the same old shit about organizing around a plan so as to "defeat" the "other" and grab control from his dying hands. A socialist agenda, in capitalist countries - a capitalist agenda in socialist countries. A "we" vs "they" continuation of the same old, same old.

You could not be a better example of that old, hoary, dichotomy if you deliberately tried to be.

Nowhere have I said that either "we" or "they" are angels. This seems to hurt and offend you. You begin plastering up a list of "their" offences. List your own. Then see how "different" you and "they" are! Get it through your head. you are not talking about some science fiction aliens. You are talking about your fellow humans. If you think that they are misguided and you fear the powerful positions they've gained control of, is it your intent, then, to grab control of those positions in order to impose your concept of "right"? How is that different from what "they" did?

How does this perpetual conflict between the left had and the right hand leave time, energy, inclination, or resources available for both hands to attend to the needs of the body? And make no mistake, that is their true use and calling - NOT constant war!
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What I don't get is this "Let's all grow up and behave like adults". You might as well demand "Let's all grow wings, turn red and become flamingos" I fail to get the point of this fantasy, this vague goombya feeling that all we have to do is waggle a finger and love each other. Is this in any way meaningful? What in hell do you have in mind?
Jan,
Sometimes a fantasy (I did mention that this is one, remember?) is just that.

As to "where I'm going"? Perhaps you might like to peruse some of my previous blogs on Citizen's Capitalism and getting rid of elections, political parties and politicians. Or maybe some of them on citizens participating in management of our society instead of giving the job over to corruptible career representatives so as to have a horizontal social structure instead of that damned old pyramid that fails us time and again.

Read and all shall be revealed.........
;-)
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I have no problems with utopias. I'm a great fan of science-fiction. Communism was, at least at one time, a neat plan for utopia and you can see where that led. There's always the problem of implementation and a few small efforts usually make it for a while and then fade away. The tough problem is figuring out how to get back to the way it was a few decades ago where the distortion of decency and corruption was manageable.
Mmmmmmm.......... almost. You can't turn back the clock so the "problem" is not one of figuring out how to go back a few generations to find decency, it is one of finding it on our way into the future.....

And I'm not entirely convinced that we ever had it in the past either, when I read of the things that went on in that past.
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I'm not kidding myself about the past and turning the clock back is just a phrase. The USA always had major problems but not anywhere as bad as now - at least during my short lifetime.

See http://www.law.harvard.edu/news/2012/02/10_nader-fein-americas-lawless-empire.html

to see how bad things really are.
Jan,
I strongly suspect that's just the tip of the iceberg......
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What has not been discussed to any large extent is the huge advance in production techniques which will destroy even more devastatingly the link between jobs and remuneration so that the entire system will be at loose ends as to how to give purchasing power to the population without demanding services. This is the acid which is rapidly eating away the whole economic structure and I see little planning to handle it.
Jan,
As you will see when you read some of my stuff, I've solved this problem in a unique way - in theory .............!

Basically and without detail, we stop the practice of direct line inheritance in favour of generational inheritance. All wealth - of everybody - is vested as shares in corporations. ALL children inherit such shares which accrue dividends until they are 20; then they get them. This means that every citizen will have, at a crucial age, the means of educating himself for any purpose he deems right for him. It also means that his lifetime income is assured from capitalism working FOR the people instead of AGAINST the people.

Since a properly working economy requires BOTH production AND consumption, in times when production is off-shored or replaced by automation, every person is still able to perform the function of consumer. A balance is maintained between those two basic factors of capitalism. Heck this is how the "rich" do it. I see no reason to do anything ridiculous like bring in socialism where everything is owned jointly. I prefer everything to be owned as shares - just as it is now - but for those shares to belong, as private property, to all citizens instead of just a few.

I then wouldn't care a bit about those who amass great fortunes. When they die their wealth will be returned to the society it came from by way of the children of the next generation inheriting it in roughly equal proportions.  The "rich" would end up benefitting their society! Wouldn't that just frost today's rich bitches asses?!!
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Unfortunately, having a plan is only the first step. If you think the system will automatically convert to whatever makes sense you have small comprehension as to how society functions. The things now in operation are in violet activity and they make no sense at all.
Oh dear Jan,
did you think that someone who can come up with this - nearly 40 years ago - wouldn't think of such things? But - again - I've already written of this in previous blogs. Don't try to use the brief sketch given here to discuss this. Read the blogs - see the excellent questions already discussed in them and come back with a better understanding of what we're talking about. Then PM me and I'll send you my email addy for us to get into it hot and heavy... ;-)
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They told me that I'm a great guy and you're an ass. I think they are some great guys and we are going to find them and kill them before they kill us.
Load and lock, good buddy, load and lock.

No matter what I think; no matter what most people think; the hotheads who put hatred before all else WILL get us fighting each other in the streets. They are determined to pit the 1% against the "have nots" (the 99% is a myth). Worse yet, it is the middle class that is at the root of the problem and we/they don't even realize it.

The 1% want more (as we all do) and want to keep what they have (as we all do). They cannot command the whole of the other 99% to hand over their money OR their work, to them.

It is the middle class that does that. It panders to the avarice of the 1% in order to try to climb up into that nice cozy elite nest themselves. It contains those who come up with the ideas for stripping the population of its hard earned cash. It contains those who implement the ways in which this is done. It contains those who become the enactors and enforcers of laws that push our wealth into the hands of the elite. To curry favour. To suck-hole to the rich. To try to emulate the rich. To try to become one of the rich.

The rich don't even think about "how" more wealth comes their way. That is left entirely up to the middle class who do that job quite nicely indeed, thank you very much. Sad fact but true nonetheless......
.
This is stunning...worth reading again and again.
I so appreciate this post. I'm guilty of the destructive thinking you describe. I think we all are at some time or another. Here is how I explain it to myself. I watch many nature shows on TV. Very many. The survival of the fittest phenomenon is alive and well in the animal world. There is always 'them'. The other beast you must kill in order to have food. The other male you must beat in order to be able to mate. The other male's offspring that you must kill so that your seed will survive. Many believe we have evolved past such as this. I do not. I still believe we contain within us remnants of a time when we had to maintain the 'it's gonna be him or me' philosophy to survive. I don't condone the behavior, but in my opinion the source of the behavior is evolutionary. We haven't come as far as we need. We know better, we just don't always do better, and I think it goes back to the survival mentality.

Anyway, that is my take. But you are correct. It is really only us. There is no them. And we are all on the same rock hurtling though space.
Thank you, Princess!!

rat,
Psychologists. I'm told, often refer to that part of us which still has the instincts of our pre-historic ancestors. as our "lizard brain." While it is certainly true that each of us can, and does on occasion, allow that raw primeval part of us to influence our actions and even our thoughts, this is something we CAN control.

Part of our problems stem from us not doing so. A major reason for us not doing so is that we, in today's dog-eat-dog economic atmosphere, find the dictates of our lizard brain to be helpful in such violent competition as we engage in. To be clear, what I'm saying is that we do not engage in such serious competition because we're programmed to do so, but that our society is programmed to reward the unleashing of the lizard when it is directed in such a manner as to make us more useful servants of our masters.

I suggest that if we were to design a proper society, one where the social concerns and conscience controlled the economic system as a tool, we can then have the kind of social support for each of us to overcome the lizard brain in us. With social support, training and education, there is no reason for "animal instincts" derived from a long evolutionary history to gain control of our human minds to the point where we think that "dog-eat-dog" is a healthy basis for our social philosophy just because, at some remote time in our past, it was valuable to our survival.

We once used children as virtual slaves. Many got rich from this. ALL people of that society benefitted in some way by this (except, of course. the children. When it was proposed that this enslavement of children be stopped, there was a huge outcry! "This is our way," some said, "leave us alone." It is "natural" said others, children need to learn the discipline of work!

Same is true of women's suffrage and the emancipation of non-whites.

I feel sad that so many people have bought into the idiotic concept that essentially says, we're doomed to be nothing more - ever - than a snake-pit of snarling, fighting, rats who compete "by nature" to see who can best serve "the corporation." And only offer respect and honour to those who "compete" the best(?).

How few it is who have broken the mind-set that has so many of us, even when we know that it is wrong, still thinking that it must ever be so because "this is our nature." Crap, sir! This is NOT our "nature" at all! Look at how much we have accomplished by our true nature in this world. Yes, there is much yet to do, but we've made a start!

A start that doesn't suit those - the middle class (us) - apparently. It seems that "divide and conquer" works as ell on us as it ever did on any population of the past.

I wonder why we keep on falling for it. It isn't good for us. Hell, bottom line, it isn't even good for those who benefit most from it!! It is a sick philosophy for a sick society. And it;s high time ALL those who see this, stand up and say, "Enough!! Enough, God damn it! I will no longer accept that all those "others" are evil and wish me harm. Yes, I know that some are and some do, but those exist in no greater numbers "over there" than they do "right here." So...... let's clean up our own house then see if we can't invite "them wicked others" in for a chat.
.
This reminds me of a conversation on Moyers show this past week with someone whose name I am blanking on. He was preaching against other political party demonization speak. Of course, before the segment was over he had offhandedly said something snarky but caught himself. Easier preached than done.

I say sometimes there is a thin rhetorical line between TOUGH LOVE as opposed to enabling CRONYISM and demonization. Sometimes the volume needs to be ramped up, the passion in communication imho to our human brethren.

Sometimes there is a very thick line between right and wrong. Political correct politeness should not eclipse it. "Thou shalt not kill" for example.

There are the games people play, though, like "let's you and him fight" and "let's pull a fast one on Joey" that our government is playing worldwide. And which the 1% is doing with the 99%ers. So your advice is good to heed for those shenanigans.

Will ponder this more and appreciate the perspective.

My two and 1/2 cents. best, libby
Best, most intelligent and informed exchange I've managed to find on OS the past several days. What a relief. Will keep my comment pretty much to that except to say I will certainly be watching this thread. Thank you!
Oops -- meant to say "following"; not "watching". It's just that I don't know whether my participation on this site is welcome or unwelcome. So I'll be _reading_ thinking and "following", in that sense. With (as I said) much appreciation.
libby,
Hah! It most certainly "easier said than done"!! How often have I had to say to myself........ Oops! Hoist by my own petard!

I doubt that "ramping up the volume" will have any good effect. One side ramps it up - then the other does; nobody listens. Only maybe one out of a hundred of the "progressives/liberal/sometimes socialists" here on OS, have shown any inclination to listen to "the other" any more than have "the others" listened to them.

As an outside and "out of country" observer of this, I can clearly see that a situation of, "everybody shouting - nobody listening", is not serving any good purpose. Both sides believe the most ridiculous things about the other side. Ramping up the volume isn't going to change that.

I suspect that sitting down calmly together over a cup of coffee might give each side a chance to realize that they have much more in common than they might think. Yes, there differences - serious ones - in out-look. Yet neither side has any "perfect answer" so far. Would one come out of a better understanding between the two? I have no idea. but it can't hurt to try!



Podunk,
If you come with good manners, you are welcome.

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thanks, sky, and well said. here's to our next cup of coffee! :) Sorry it took so long to get back.

i know i must challenge myself, "if this is being put forth in the name of tough love, libby, are you really packaging it so?" hmmmm. then there is the temperament thing with folks, and some temperaments run warmer than others in communication. But thoughtfulness should be a priority. also, i have that codependent thing when a friend and/or ally of my position is being challenged I can get snarkier on their behalf to a commenter than I would on my own, and snarkier than they would probably get in replying and at times I need to let them take that responsibility and not go in for indignant "overkill". Doesn't help out the issue, me or the friend/ally.

btw, i love that open salon is global!!! it especially is healthy for US citizens to get some exceptionalism-challenging consciousness-raising feedback!

i am very impressed with the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein. I even noted she had been invited as an expert onto Fox News which shows more forbearance than I would have. She is so well educated on health care and the environment and campaign financing, especially, that that grounds her in debating. It seems the more wobbly one is on full scope information of an issue the more one can tend to ramp up the emotional defense rather than letting facts and reality speak for themselves. "Truthiness" and cronyism in place of truth. Gotta keep that in mind for myself, too! best, libby
Why thank you libby!!

Considering that you and I have "bumped noses" now and again, this is a most generous and kindly comment!

You may not have my love but you surely do have my respect. I'd not likely have been so generous if the shoe were on the other foot.

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I found this post of yours late, sky. It is very good and the comment thread was - robust. Great thoughts here and it is true that we are all part of the same humanity.
r./
Hope this won't be a duplicate comment (I'm having some troubles with the computer ... or is it with my connection with OS?):

Sky, what I personally would most appreciate from all of this good discussion so far, is if you would post a link or two or some dates for those of us who would like to read some of the earlier posts you referred to in response to Jan? I, "for one", would surely like to be able to read some or all of them, but I need your help to know which ones to look for first &/or how.

Capisce? :-(
Po, I seem to be having trouble posting those URLs for you. I've sent you a PM with them in.
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?! "Above and Beyond the Call of Duty" ?! THANK YOU, "Maestro"! Another "WHEW!" from me. All those hours yesterday evening at least beginning to read these several of your back posts and now this morning finding you'd added the links here. "Can't" (to repeat myself for the umpteenth? time) "thank you enough"!
"Exhilarating isn't it FRed(tm). The comments make'eth the post too.
Of course Mr Sand when he says
'there is no possibility of my contributing in any way to human society' is too humble to accept that his comments add to the aforementioned human society.

Mr PixieO must have a beard like wot we do Boy as this 'debate' is one of the best on OS this last year. Don't tell him though will yah FRed(tm), nope."
OK, now the aRse licking is over in my previ'Arse comment, may I just re-quote my favoUrite saying on this frosty morn.
"No that wasn't a request for permission FRed(tm)."

CHance favours the Prepared Mind.
ASsumption is the Muvver of all fLuck_ups.

It's still a good debate, please continue.
"Gentlemen you may now smoke."