TIME FOR A FULL S.E.S. INQUIRY

Discussion of the children's schools in the UK.

Should the St James Inquiry be extended to the whole SES?

Yes
27
82%
No
6
18%
 
Total votes: 33

Witness
Posts: 41
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2004 5:55 pm

TIME FOR A FULL S.E.S. INQUIRY

Postby Witness » Sun Dec 12, 2004 10:19 am

Dear All,

Congratulations to all of you who have obviously survived terrible experiences at St James and St Vedasts and yet still have the strength of character to see that justice will be done.

The metaphor of Hitler and the Nazi party has already been used on this board to describe the crimes of SES, its leadership and its schools.

I have met a few brilliant, free-thinking and humanistic people from SES. Let us say, to return to the metaphor already used, that they are the Oscar Schindlers, or Hitler?s would-be assassins. But for every Schindler, there were thousands of brainwashed Nazi Party members. The word needs to be spread about what SES really is, how dangerous it is in the wrong hands, and how much suffering it continues to cause.

I want to bring a new element to this discussion by extending the metaphor. If St James and St Vedasts are the Hitler Youth of SES, then the broader SES itself (the Nazi Party) must be brought to book, not just the schools.

Beyond the child abuse at the schools, this forum must (with equal energy) face the crimes of the broader SES itself.

SES is the first cause of the abuse, we must not only single out individual abusers. Because, metaphorically, that would be a Nuremberg Trail of Nazi war criminals which left out a denunciation of the Nazi Party and Mein Kampf.

The danger is that Debenam and the likes of him become SES's scapegoats, and the organization will live on as a leaner, more PR-savvy variant without ever really giving the national apology and acceptence of wrongdoing that is needed.

The child abuse at the schools is surely the most foul crime that SES is guilty of. It is certainly the crime with the most evidence.

But justice does not stop there. Membership of SES is vastly bigger than St James. So there must be hundreds of lives that have been destroyed by SES without the St James or St Vedasts experience.

I believe that the pressures SES imposes on lives and families is responsible for mental breakdowns, suicides, divorces, juvenile drug abuse and more.

SES's link to these tragedies can be hidden because (1) they are the opposite of what the SES proports to stand for and (2) these tragedies take place in homes and not in public institutions such as schools and (3) SES recruits by stealth, calling itself ?The School of Philosphy? or ?Art in Action? or ?St. James? and one can walk in and out without noticing anything sinister at all. It is only after time, and disaster, that you know what has hit you.

In spite of convenient clouds of smoke hiding its true nature, SES will not get away with it for ever.

Of course, I form my perspective from personal experience. Personally I never went to either St James or St Vedasts, but I had many friends who did, and my parents were in SES. I attended SES "Philosophy" classes. As a child I was psychologically abused by the SES teaching and adults who adhered to it. The teaching brought a cruel and inhumane streak out in the adults around me. My abuser felt empowered and sanctioned by SES.

I was horrified and terrified as I witnessed the brainwashing in my family when I was a teenager. Their once fun-loving and warm identities have been replaced by obsessive, patronising, anti-social and narrow-minded clones. For a while, like many with the St James and St Vedasts experience, it was so awful that it sent me off the rails for a patch.

There's nothing special about my case. I believe I am just one very average example of hundreds, if not thousands of children of SES parents who did not go to St James and St Vedasts but must also want justice to be done.

I was never physically abused as many of you on this message board have been, but the SES organisation took my childhood and my family away from me. When I was a defenceless child, it caused me deep emotional pain.

Like the victims of St Vedasts here, I have now grown up into a free adult who is equipped to stand up to authority. I want to look the culprits in the eyes on an equal level.

If they are deluded into thinking that they are on the right path, I want to give them an education. I want them to know what their organization has done to families and to children. I want SES to stop meddling in families, telling people who they should love and how they should live.

The root of SES injustice is the lie that they tell: to themselves, to newcomers. SES does not teach philosophy at all. Philosophy is about questions. But SES have all the answers. There is therefore a huge insulting lie on every "Philosophy" poster one sees on the London Underground.

That first big lie, that first big delusion, opens up all the rest of the lies and malpractices. It is precisely how Hitler caught peoples' minds: with an enourmous lie. So if you're a good person or a bad person and you're in SES it doesnt really make any difference: you are playing with your own head and everybody else's.

SES is a group of people often including the power-hungry who before membership felt weak and powerless. It warps peoples minds, lives off the weak, the damaged and the friendless, and seems to object to the strong minds that stand up to them. There are well-meaning individuals in the group. But many sinister organisations began with good intentions. I learnt that at school, and it wasn?t at St James.

If anyone has any bright ideas how we go about extending the Inquiry to the entire SES, please reply to me here.

Good luck to you all.

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Postby a different guest » Sun Dec 12, 2004 11:00 am

I have voted yes for I have seen how membership of the SES (SOP here) has affected the lives of my relatives. I worry about their kids all the while they are totally entranced by the "wonderful" education their children are getting in an SES school. I don't see in any way how the beleif system they have received from the SES has enhanced their lives - to my mind it has made their lives harder.

a_guest

Postby a_guest » Sun Dec 12, 2004 2:30 pm

Should the St james inquiry be extended to the whole of the SES?

Ideally yes. The trouble is, I think we?ll have enough of a task negotiating satisfactory conditions for an inquiry into past abuses, let alone broadening it to cover the entire SES. The fact that the school has made no attempt to contact former pupils, yet has apparently set a timeframe for an inquiry and written to current parents, does not bode well.
(If their excuse is that they don?t have current contact details for past pupils, that?s utter rubbish. The St james Spectrum magazine has followed me around like a bad smell ever since I left school, and I even recently received a written invitation to contribute to a message to Debenhams retirement do)

erikdr

Re: TIME FOR A FULL S.E.S. INQUIRY

Postby erikdr » Sun Dec 12, 2004 2:58 pm

Witness wrote:Dear All,

I have met a few brilliant, free-thinking and humanistic people from SES. Let us say, to return to the metaphor already used, that they are the Oscar Schindlers, or Hitler?s would-be assassins. But for every Schindler, there were thousands of brainwashed Nazi Party members. The word needs to be spread about what SES really is, how dangerous it is in the wrong hands, and how much suffering it continues to cause.
I believe that the pressures SES imposes on lives and families is responsible for mental breakdowns, suicides, divorces, juvenile drug abuse and more.

Of course, I form my perspective from personal experience. Personally I never went to either St James or St Vedasts, but I had many friends who did, and my parents were in SES. I attended SES "Philosophy" classes. As a child I was psychologically abused by the SES teaching and adults who adhered to it. The teaching brought a cruel and inhumane streak out in the adults around me. My abuser felt empowered and sanctioned by SES.

I was horrified and terrified as I witnessed the brainwashing in my family when I was a teenager. Their once fun-loving and warm identities have been replaced by obsessive, patronising, anti-social and narrow-minded clones. For a while, like many with the St James and St Vedasts experience, it was so awful that it sent me off the rails for a patch.
The root of SES injustice is the lie that they tell: to themselves, to newcomers. SES does not teach philosophy at all. Philosophy is about questions. But SES have all the answers. There is therefore a huge insulting lie on every "Philosophy" poster one sees on the London Underground.


I'd vote firmly AGAINST (but have been too lazy uptilnow to register, hence vote will not count :-)
Generally spoken: yes, where religion becomes cultish it can go wrong and can lead to zombie-like people whose life quality detoriates and who also damage people around them. But it is nonse to accuse only SES of it - you could tell mostly the same story about right-wing Catholics (e.g. Opus Dei), right-wing evangelists and groups like Jehovah's Witnesses.

On the other hand, where religion becomes cultish it usually has a stronger impact than what you'd call 'Sunday tea party religion', and for as many people that is a POSITIVE impact. Including SES - many people whom I've known in my SES years really became better persons, getting more fun-loving and warm identities and not making too much from the overdone social pressures made from the top on their family lives.

So maybe better aim for a more clear education from EACH spiritual group of what they're aiming at? SES, which indeed still keeps the old name and PR posters because the Gurdjieff touch is to keep words like meditation and transformation very low profile in the beginning, this requirementt of more clear PR would already remove the sting I'd say...

So far my halfpenny. All the best,

<Erik> - Amsterdam
(Already 15 years into Buddhism after an 8-year SES 'career').

Witness
Posts: 41
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2004 5:55 pm

Petition to MP

Postby Witness » Mon Dec 13, 2004 9:45 am

erikdr,

Thankyou for your post.

From the reasons you give as to why you oppose a full SES Inquiry, I remain puzzled.


You wrote:

"yes, where religion becomes cultish it can go wrong and can lead to zombie-like people whose life quality detoriates and who also damage people around them. But it is nonse to accuse only SES of it - you could tell mostly the same story about right-wing Catholics (e.g. Opus Dei), right-wing evangelists and groups like Jehovah's Witnesses. "

You appear to be saying that SES is one of many organizations where "religion becomes cultish" and therefore should not be treated any differently than Opus Dei or Jehovah's Witnesses.

Well, my premise here is precisely that SES denies it is a religion or a branch of a religion (unlike the organizations you mention).

This should surely raise eyebrows to an objective observer, much as would an organization which advertises cookery classes and is in fact using the front to recruit people into a political party. (1) I don't believe the law would stand for it. (2) this fundamental lack of honesty points to further wrongs which stem from it.

So I agree with you when you write "more clear PR would already remove the sting I'd say... "

If the PR would tell the truth, it would say that SES is an organized religion. An inquiry may rule that SES should also register itself as a religion.

I would be interested to know your view on the Inquiry into the Dutch school that took place in the late 90s. It is a clear precedent that makes a UK (USA, Aus etc?) Inquiry a viable solution.

Allegations need to be dealt with.

Enough signatures on a petition to an MP based at the SES HQ's constituency would start the ball rolling.

And I am still puzzled why you vote against an Inquiry - an Inquiry faces mass allegations (which there are), asks questions and seeks the truth.

Didn't we all get in to this to seek the truth, anyway?

Thankyou, again for you contributions to this discussion.

erikdr

Re: Petition to MP

Postby erikdr » Mon Dec 13, 2004 4:07 pm

Witness wrote:erikdr,

ThanYou appear to be saying that SES is one of many organizations where "religion becomes cultish" and therefore should not be treated any differently than Opus Dei or Jehovah's Witnesses.

Yes, indeed. And just like this too it is not easily admitting that it is a cult!

Witness wrote:
Well, my premise here is precisely that SES denies it is a religion or a branch of a religion (unlike the organizations you mention).
This should surely raise eyebrows to an objective observer, much as would an organization which advertises cookery classes and is in fact using the front to recruit people into a political party. (1) I don't believe the law would stand for it. (2) this fundamental lack of honesty points to further wrongs which stem from it.


Far exaggerated. It usually (at least here in Amsterdam) does admit that it teaches meditation, and (now) on the outset appears just like a generic new-agen group. And the line between new-age and religion, and new-age and cult, is not that clearly drawn.

Witness wrote:
If the PR would tell the truth, it would say that SES is an organized religion. An inquiry may rule that SES should also register itself as a religion.


Nonsense. Same inquiry should also be held into Opus Dei, JW etc etc. What you COULD do is attack them on the clarity of their advertising which in the UK seems to be still a bit lagging behind the new openness they've adopted over here. Simply trying to beat with the advertising rules which state that ads should not hide TOO BIG relevant facts...

Witness wrote:
I would be interested to know your view on the Inquiry into the Dutch school that took place in the late 90s. It is a clear precedent that makes a UK (USA, Aus etc?) Inquiry a viable solution.

It simply concluded that it has/had cult-like dimensions without breaking legal rules, just like JW's and others. And mind you: the Dutch SES (SvF or SoF) already for a long time had legal charity status, similar to a religious organisation over here. So no need to do the inquiry on that topic.


Witness wrote:
And I am still puzzled why you vote against an Inquiry - an Inquiry faces mass allegations (which there are), asks questions and seeks the truth.
Didn't we all get in to this to seek the truth, anyway?

I vote against because it would single out SES as far more dangerous than JW, Opus Dei, those US evangelists which are creating lots of troubles in Muslim countries etc. etc. And to the best of my knowledge it is and was never like that, in many aspects even less dangerous!!!

With folded palms,

<Erik>

grobchok
Posts: 24
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evidence not innuendo

Postby grobchok » Mon Dec 13, 2004 5:25 pm

I would like to support Erik in what he says. Objectively, the SES in the UK has been under the eye of INFORM, the cult watchdog, for quite some time. So far as I am aware, there was never enough to be concerned about to trigger action, and it might even have been removed from their list.

The word 'cult' is a big one, and like 'paedophile' it has a devastating effect - there's not much you can do about it once these words are hurled at you, no matter how baseless the allegation.

However, to deal with specifics: I would suggest that a cult has some distinguishing characteristics, namely (1) a charismatic leadership figure, (2) a set of dogmas that must be subscribed to, and (3) the manipulation of people's lives for the benefit of the leadership, usually by taking their money.

(1) Leon MacLaren was certainly charismatic, but since his death 10 years ago he has been replaced by a much milder regime. The present leader Donald Lambie is certainly not notably charismatic and indeed I would characterise his whole approach as being to encourage diversity, debate and enquiry.

(2) There are no dogmas which all in the SES subscribe to and although in the past people have tried to create them, dogma is really alien to the whole Eastern philosophical system and is for my money a Western hangover from Christianity. I certainly feel, as a present member, that there are no sacred cows. At one time or another I have openly questioned many of the central assertions - every philosophical school has them - both in philosophy groups and direct to both Lambie and, in his later years, MacLaren. I feel well able to decide matters of principle for myself or with the help of others, and would frankly reject any attempt to insert dogmatic statements arbitrarily. The Indian tradition of philosophies as "darshnas" - "views" is, I think, greatly to be applauded. I do admit that there is still work to be done to 'free up' our thinking, but rather resent the implication of this post that we are all helpless dupes.

(3) There has never been any question of financial manipulation, due to the SES principle that no-one receives payment for teaching. There are a couple of secretaries that get money for what they do but otherwise no-one is profiting financially. Fees are very reasonable - eg I pay ?67 a month for 36 evenings, 1 residential week and a few weekends and days through the year. For many years I was on a reduced rate of ?22 pcm until my income rose enough. I do not make donations of other kinds, as a rule. The question then is whether there is manipulation of a more subtle kind. I certainly feel that this did happen in the past, probably due to the impatience of the former management to 'get things done', but that it is now very, very mild. I would never defend manipulation of any sort wherever it is found, but I am wholly opposed to the view that we are doomed to forever perpetuate the errors of the past.

I can only say personally that I have great love for the School and for what it has done for me and others. This love does not blind me to its failings, but it does make me sad when those that have little knowledge of the present situation are so happy to wreak destruction.

I challenge anyone who feels that the SES is secretive to look at any of its current written or online publications - www.philosophycourse.com - before they launch into further tirades. Then at least the criticism will be informed.

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Re: evidence not innuendo

Postby mgormez » Mon Dec 13, 2004 8:40 pm

grobchok wrote:I would like to support Erik in what he says. Objectively, the SES in the UK has been under the eye of INFORM, the cult watchdog, for quite some time.


There is more to INFORM than meets the eye. Founder Eileen Barker is not objective and rather pro-active in trying to close cult-watchgroups down in the late 80s.
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/b28.html

And Mrs Barker has testified for the Moon cult.
http://groups-beta.google.com/group/alt ... ode=source
Mike Gormez

grobchok
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apologists

Postby grobchok » Mon Dec 13, 2004 11:27 pm

Hmm ... well that is an eye-opener. I had always thought that it was just a watchdog.

Welllll ... perhaps I should stick to my own experience. I don't think the word 'cult' is appropriate today, although it may once have been somewhat merited.

The problem with a 'cult' mentality (wherever you find it) is that it makes a division between the 'outside' and the 'inside'. I notice that when people feel that they are 'inside' then they stop thinking. That is a real problem if the people in charge are manipulative. If they are wise, then they will do something to make the person realise they are still a part of the human race, first and foremost.

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Postby a different guest » Tue Dec 14, 2004 12:11 am

and given your other posts do you really beleive what you are doing is "thinking"?

I see from my own relatives - ALL their friends are in the SES. Their kids go to SES schools. The only listen to Mozart and Shakespeare is JUST the thing for a 5 year old to perform in the school play.

Oh yes, they are certainly doing their own thinking *rolls eyes*

Witness
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Questions and Answers

Postby Witness » Tue Dec 14, 2004 9:17 am

To erikdr and grobchok,

Thankyou for your important contributions to this discussion.


Erik,

We have a major point of agreement here. You say that SES has difficulty admitting it is a cult, and the Dutch national Inquiry concluded SES has/had cult-like dimensions:


"And just like this too it is not easily admitting that it is a cult!"

"It simply concluded that it has/had cult-like dimensions"


The official line in the SES in the UK is that firmly denies it is a cult. That is a gross denial which is damaging lives.

It is exactly my point in calling for a broader Inquiry, to mirror the Dutch one, and whch there never has been in the UK, to establish these facts.

I would consider it a major, positive breakthrough if the views you hold were voiced by an Inquiry. So what is the danger of an Inquiry? Why would you oppose it if it is likely to conclude what you yourself feel?

Interested in your view, -Witness



grobchok,

There is a difference between an allegation and an inquiry. Please don't get the impression that I am confusing the two. As you say, allegations like
like 'cult' or 'paedophile' are big and damaging. To my mind an Iquiry is a departure from mere allegations, and seeks truth. I can accept that your opinion is that SES is not a cult, but I am concerned that you would object to the very question "Is SES a cult?" even being asked. Surely, if you are so right, and a "philosopher" you have absolutely nothing to fear from difficult questions? Nothing to fear from an Inquiry, which would not allege, but would inquire?

On another point, you have hit the nail right on the head:

"The problem with a 'cult' mentality (wherever you find it) is that it makes a division between the 'outside' and the 'inside'. I notice that when people feel that they are 'inside' then they stop thinking. That is a real problem if the people in charge are manipulative. If they are wise, then they will do something to make the person realise they are still a part of the human race, first and foremost."

Your descipition here of cult mentality is EXACTLY my 25-year experience of knowing people in SES. You draw the distinction between the wise and the manipulative people in charge. I have first-hand experience of pathologically manipulative people in charge at SES. Perhaps you are lucky, and have met the wise ones.

SES gives "people in charge," as you term then, immense power over other people's minds and lives. That power may be put to good use in cases, and may be abused in others. But when the abuse occurs it is thoroughly, tragically destructive - and I am one of hundreds if not thousands of witnesses of it.

Some Americans in support of gun law say "Guns don't kill people - people kill people." I am with the view that "Guns kill people" because they will always find their way into destructive hands, even if some gun owners are wise.

Likewise, it is manipulative or destructive people in SES who use it to destroy others. The only way to stop that happening is to control the source of their power- at the very least to have a precise and public definitition of what it really is. The wise users of SES will not lose out. Recruitment levels would probably go down if newcomers are made aware of what they are really get into. But given the injustices that hundreds of people are speaking of, that is a cost that has to be born.

Respectfully,

Witness.

leonm

Re: evidence not innuendo

Postby leonm » Tue Dec 14, 2004 10:17 am

grobchok wrote:I would like to support Erik in what he says. Objectively, the SES in the UK has been under the eye of INFORM, the cult watchdog, for quite some time. So far as I am aware, there was never enough to be concerned about to trigger action, and it might even have been removed from their list.



INFORM is not all it looks to be. It is often accused of being a cult apologist.

grobchok
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babies and bathwater

Postby grobchok » Tue Dec 14, 2004 10:19 am

Witness

I am not afraid of inquiry and as far as I am concerned anything that helps to get rid of manipulative behaviour is positive.

However, I am less sure than you that a public Inquiry asking the provocative question you suggest is going to help. My experience is limited to the past 18 years, in which time I have been quite close to the centre of things in London, etc, and although I did know people who had had bad experiences, it has not been endemic or systemic in my time.

A considerable process of reform has been going on, quietly but progressively, and I now feel content that we are well on the road to becoming a fully positive and useful entity free from any cultish aims or associations. For that reason, I do not think a witch-hunt is a good idea at this time. The Inquiry at St James is causing a huge amount of trauma and soul-searching within the organization, and it is causing people to question their behaviour. So I think that at the very least some time should be given to allow this process to run its course.

Again, I would emphasise that I speak only as a member of the SES. I am all in favour of greater separation between St James & SES because I think that a school for children operates under different principles than one for adults. I think that the idea of educating children philosophically has to be handled with the greatest care and it is not a project I would enter into personally with any great certainty. Personal choice is essential to philosophy, and a real decision can only be taken by an adult. It does not surprise me in the least that people trying to apply things from adult philosophy classes to children have met with varying success.

If you (or anyone else) would like to discuss this privately, I would be most happy to do so and would be interested to hear of your experiences. I have no interest in a whitewash, but equally there are some things it is easier to speak about individually. My email is grobchok2000@yahoo.co.uk.

Hope to hear from you.

TB

Postby TB » Tue Dec 14, 2004 10:36 am

Hi Witness,
Some Americans in support of gun law say "Guns don't kill people - people kill people." I am with the view that "Guns kill people" because they will always find their way into destructive hands, even if some gun owners are wise

I do not want to try and take this comment out of context of your post around the cult allegation for the SES but would still like to comment on this oft gun owners 'mantra'.

There is no question that in the wrong hands a gun does far greater damage than empty hands and for this reason alone I think there is an argument for gun control. However, without a human behind it, guns are mostly safe. The critical element is the human being. Remove the gun and a knife, or stick, or atom bomb will eventually replace it. The only long term resolution is to remove the human, and logically this will not happen.

The parallel of 'gun danger' to your comments on the SES being a possible cult. The SES is just a collective outcome of its members at all levels. It is naive to believe that the SES is some malevolent gun, that is intrinsically dangerous, and cult like. It reflects the nature of its people. There is no doubt that birds of a feather flock together, but the fundamental issue rests with the people themselves and the way we behave in groups and where power resides in the hands of those who can get it. In the case of SES MacLaren was able to direct sufficient people to form the character of the SES. This says as much about the members as it does about Mac himself.

Grobchoks comments about those 'inside' and 'outside' is affected by where you sit. Everyone has some footprints 'inside' and some 'outside' of some social grouping.
We all support socially conforming groups to achieve various things and they will mould our behaviour.

I do not doubt that SES has caused some damage to some of its members (some being aware, some not), just as it has produced good for some people. Again some will know this, and some won't. But all of it will be subjective judgements.

The debate about where SES is specifically wrong in its behaviour is as subjective a view as you get from any outsider, jst as you have subjective views from those inside. Looking into the SES it is easy to describe the 'happy' ones as deluded and 'wrong', and the ones who criticise the SES as liberated and 'right'.

I am not arguing that we become moral relativists and become detached and unable to take any action. The attack upon the SES is because many people do not like what they do and would like to see it brought down. They also do not like the things that occured at St James as students. Moral justification might be necessary to effect this, and if so and it achieves the desired end, then well and good.

The moral arguments will wax and wane for eternity. Quite why we are trying to construct a moral argument before we can act against the SES, amazes me. There are plenty of cases where we act first and build the case afterwards (the SES itself is a good example of this right now).

Let's just say that the SES has damaged the integrity of what we want as individuals and/or families and we are coming to get you, and bring you down. Let's use the moral argument if it helps, but can we genuinely position it as inviolate, unquestioned Right with a capital R. I think not.

grobchok
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:06 pm

Vendetta?

Postby grobchok » Tue Dec 14, 2004 12:11 pm

TB wrote:Let's just say that the SES has damaged the integrity of what we want as individuals and/or families and we are coming to get you, and bring you down.


TB,

If, for the sake of argument, the serious actionable abuses had all happened within the context of St Vedast/St James, would it not be better to concentrate your efforts there? It seems to me that by far the most important issue is what was done to children rather than consenting adults.

The problem with this post is that from the very top it is all speculation and hype - let's get the Nazi Party, not just the top brass! - well, how far do you want to go? Why not punish all Germans? That happened in 1918 and we then had 1939. If there are specific abuses that people bring up that have not been dealt with, it is a different matter, just as with war crimes - however over the top and lurid the comparison may be.

I say, if people genuinely have reformed their ways, and are genuinely contrite, why do you want to "go after them"?

My offer is open to you as well. If you want to discuss actual issues, or anything at all, I am willing to talk.


[quote error fixed (forgot to use a forward slash) -- mike]


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