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Intent vs Outcome
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In the ongoing discussion about VP Biden's lack of recognition of personal boundaries, the constant refrain is that intent doesn't matter; the only thing that matters is how a person perceives or feels about your actions. E.g. it doesn't matter that VP Biden had no sexual intent or intent to offend or make anyone uncomfortable, the ONLY thing that matters is that these women felt uncomfortable.

Is this a reasonable position? Are we really willing to take that position to its extremes?

I have problems with this narrative, not the least of which is that I think it does matter whether you intend or don't intend to make someone uncomfortable, to abuse your power, to cross boundaries, etc. Are we really going to argue that a person who innocently encroaches on your personal boundaries out of an attempt to convey affection is no different than a person who encroaches on your boundaries because he wants a chance to get a sexual thrill?

The more difficult problem is the trend that says, whatever a person feels, everyone else has to accept that as a reasonable response. I reach out to shake someone's hand, and that person decides that they've just been violated, now I'm the bad guy despite my intentions and the person's obviously unreasonable objections. Not only does this mindset allow people to claim more and more ridiculous claims of offense, but it sanctions people who decide to fabricate offense because we're not allowed to question those feelings.

We had a poster here in the LR who claimed that calling them on the phone is "aggressive," and impolite as opposed to texting. Leaving aside the obvious irrationality of that feeling, if we live in a society where intent doesn't matter, only perception, then how is anyone supposed to get a feel for the rules and boundaries we're not allowed to cross?

Slowguy

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Re: Intent vs Outcome [slowguy] [ In reply to ]
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Keep in mind that I woke up 5 hours earlier than normal to validate our latest release an am kind of loopy when you read my response.

The flip side to what you ask is that who is responsible for knowing whether they are causing a problem. Are you supposed to just let creepy Joe go because he didn't mean any harm when he pressed in against you and inhaled deeply in your hair? He was just being familiar.

If you take that to extremes we let GHW Bush go when he palms women's asses. He was just being nice after all. Creepy Joe can press up against your butt. He's just that way.

I get where you are coming from. But we're not really talking about people who are trying to shake hands. We have people who go beyond the normal social convention and use their claim of lack of intent as cover. I'm going to go with a standard of "know or should have known". I don't really buy that these guys are lacking intent. They just think they are allowed.

We are so fucked.
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [slowguy] [ In reply to ]
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of course intent matters and colors things.

That said, when it comes to personal contact, it seems important to impose boundaries on individuals who have gestural aspberger's.

How will the other person respond? Might it be misinterpreted? Maybe their personal bubble is bigger or more sensitive?

It's the cluelessness aforehand that's the main problem, not the response.

Shaking hands is a widely agreed upon social convention. Sniffing hair isn't.
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [j p o] [ In reply to ]
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The flip side to what you ask is that who is responsible for knowing whether they are causing a problem.

I don't think it's an either/or situation. Both sides have responsibility in any interaction. Person A should be aware of social norms and of cues from person B that they might be uncomfortable. Person B is responsible for making it clear if they don't like some sort of contact, and also for not adopting some sort of unreasonable standard for what they deem acceptable from person A.

Slowguy

(insert pithy phrase here...)
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [slowguy] [ In reply to ]
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slowguy wrote:
and also for not adopting some sort of unreasonable standard for what they deem acceptable from person A.

this may be where the problem lies. It's a sliding scale. The reasonable standard up until a couple years ago was that bosses, customers, coaches and others in a position of power (hiring, tipping, advancing) could grab without consequences.

#MeToo and all the debate (and radical interpretation) attached is how the standard gets shifted, in this case to a more conservative expectation of behaviour.

A societal shift has got to be big, noisy, messy and uncomfortable to have any effect, in most cases.

(I don't intend this to sound preachy, am trying to work out my own thoughts).
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [kiki] [ In reply to ]
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The reasonable standard up until a couple years ago was that bosses, customers, coaches and others in a position of power (hiring, tipping, advancing) could grab without consequences.

I think it's been a while longer than that since the standard has shifted. The #MeToo movement is about women being able to speak up about sexual assault and harassment, and about society getting a better idea of how pervasive assault and harassment can be, not about shifting the line for what constitutes acceptable behavior. It's more about making it clear that there are people crossing the line and getting away with it, than redefining the line itself.

Regardless, if the narrative is "intent doesn't matter, all that matters is how the other person feels," that's an impossible standard to apply consistently.

Slowguy

(insert pithy phrase here...)
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [slowguy] [ In reply to ]
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slowguy wrote:
harassment can be, not about shifting the line for what constitutes acceptable behavior. It's more about making it clear that there are people crossing the line and getting away with it, than redefining the line itself.

Making it clear *is* what is redefining it. People used to let it slide. Now they're not.

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I reach out to shake someone's hand, and that person decides that they've just been violated

I'm not sure that's a great analogy. You're using the slippery-slope argument. I don't think that shifting the line means that all sorts of absurd things will become commonplace and we all have to live in fear of every interaction. Just don't be Biden/Trump-grade creepy. It's not that hard, I don't think.

And for Biden and Trump, the issue isn't that the line shifted now. They're in the 1970's, when powerful people could do that stuff without being called out. If shifted decades years ago. And now people finally have the guts to tell them that.
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [slowguy] [ In reply to ]
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I think there is room to acknowledge both intent and how the person felt. For example, if you put on your coat and accidentally swing your hand around and hit your coworker in the face, they will be hurt. You owe them an apology and I’m sure you would give one, but they still may have a bloody nose to show for it. While it is a different scenario than getting angry and punching them in the nose, they still have the same bloody nose to deal with. Are they not allowed to acknowledge their injury regardless of the intent?

Of course, they should not have you arrested for assault in the first scenario, but you can still be held accountable for any damages.

Also, who claimed phone calls were agressive? I want to call and ask them about it.




who's smarter than you're? i'm!
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [slowguy] [ In reply to ]
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slowguy wrote:

Regardless, if the narrative is "intent doesn't matter, all that matters is how the other person feels," that's an impossible standard to apply consistently.

I disagree with the premise that that is a current widespread narrative, and I would disagree with that narrative is if was the narrative. Of course intent matters, as does outcome.


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Re: Intent vs Outcome [FindinFreestyle] [ In reply to ]
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FindinFreestyle wrote:
slowguy wrote:

Regardless, if the narrative is "intent doesn't matter, all that matters is how the other person feels," that's an impossible standard to apply consistently.

I disagree with the premise that that is a current widespread narrative, and I would disagree with that narrative is if was the narrative. Of course intent matters, as does outcome.

There are quite a number of people who say intent is irrelevant, as slowguy said.




who's smarter than you're? i'm!
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [slowguy] [ In reply to ]
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I think that intent and outcome both matter. In Biden's case, he overstepped what I believe are acceptable and recognized boundaries. Therefore, his behavior is more of a factor. He may not have intended to sexually assault those girls/women, but his intentional actions were closer to assault on the scale of behavior.

Likewise, I think of the reporter who accidentally said something along the lines of "Martin Luther Coon" when referring to MLK. That is a disgusting phrase and I am sure that there are many racists who use it. From all reports though, those words were not intentional and did not appear to be what would be considered a Freudian Slip. However, he was persecuted and lost his job. He was judged on the outcome when there was no apparent intent or obvious subconscious slip to say what he did. If he used that term off the air, then it is one thing and he should suffer consequences for it. But if it was not terminology that he used in the past, then the intent should weigh more than the outcome.

I do agree that there seem to be examples of people who are fully judged, and punished, based on outcome of unintentional actions. Instead of siding with the people who call offense based on xyz-ism, we should take some time to consider intent.
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [slowguy] [ In reply to ]
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One of the key words you used in your opening post was "unreasonable." There is a test of reasonableness in the complaint. Is it reasonable to object to the VP holding your shoulders, leaning in and smelling your hair and then softly kissing you on the back of the head? Especially when you have no close relationship with this person and they hold a position of power? I would argue that is a perfectly reasonable complaint. The test of reasonableness is used in the law often. Is it reasonable to complain that when a man shook your hand, he was being inappropriate? That doesn't seem like a reasonable complaint. So Biden's intent is still not the issue. Even if his intent was harmless, it was reasonable to complain about his actions. It's up to him to understand appropriate and inappropriate behavior, full stop.
Last edited by: Kay Serrar: Apr 6, 19 12:16
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [trail] [ In reply to ]
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trail wrote:
And for Biden and Trump, the issue isn't that the line shifted now. They're in the 1970's, when powerful people could do that stuff without being called out. If shifted decades years ago. And now people finally have the guts to tell them that.
Yeah, things have changed since the 70's, but some people haven't changed with the times.

Among other things, we had female strippers at the USAF O-Clubs on Friday nights back in the 70's up through the early 80's. (We even had a couple at the USAF Academy the night before a football game in 1972.) Good luck trying to get away with this these days.


"Human existence is based upon two pillars: Compassion and knowledge. Compassion without knowledge is ineffective; Knowledge without compassion is inhuman." Victor Weisskopf.
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [slowguy] [ In reply to ]
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Of course intent matters. And, yes, you are right that there are plenty of people saying that intent does not matter.
I hope you don't mind that I make a list of some specific observations I had about this...

Things I understand and/or agree with:

1.) Any person Joe interacts with telling him, politely but forcefully, that what he's doing is not appreciated and that he should stop.
2.) Any person extending their normal personal boundaries, for a brief moment, to tolerate a more tactile than normal human being like Joe Biden.
3.) Any person observing Joe Biden interact with people and thinking "boy, that seems like too much for my tastes".


Things that have rubbed me the wrong way:

1.) A woman -- whom Joe Biden was helping at the time -- goes out of her way to torpedo his career by publicly airing complaints about him, even though she never said anything to Joe privately. I don't think we can overstate the size of the knife this woman drove into Biden's back.
2.) Large numbers of busy bodies -- who don't know Joe from Adam -- feeling like they have some right to decide how Joe will handle his noncriminal personal business.
3.) The default assumption that during friendly social banter and occasions you don't ever, ever just touch another human being.
4.) This assumption #3 to the extent that anyone who does end up touching another -- in whatever innocent way it might go down -- is immediately viewed with suspicion.

I realize that, supposedly, #3 and #4 have nothing to do with any of this, but that's just not how the world works. These formerly were mostly natural instinctive phenomenon happening in real time. Now everyone's got to be all up in their own heads during every microsecond. Yeehaw.
Last edited by: SH: Apr 6, 19 13:44
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [SH] [ In reply to ]
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SH wrote:
Now everyone's got to be all up in their own heads during every microsecond. Yeehaw.


I think that's trying to manufacture melodrama where none really exists. 99.9% of people aren't like Biden already. E.g. not in a position of massive celebrity power where every interaction is scrutinized, and having post "Mad Men" standards for personal conduct.

I am never "all up in my head" about standing behind a woman I'm not intimate with and putting my hands on her shoulders because that's already about 3 miles outside what I'd consider doing before all this.

I'm also not that sympathetic with 2). That's part of celebrity. That's the drawback. If you want to be wildly famous and powerful, you're going to be scrutinized and there's going to be a cottage industry of "busy bodies" discussing you. It's always been that way. Always will be.
Last edited by: trail: Apr 6, 19 14:06
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [trail] [ In reply to ]
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One of the difficulties of the LR is when folks take off in what seem like odd tangents. I guess these issues are tough to completely flesh out succinctly...

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SH wrote:Now everyone's got to be all up in their own heads during every microsecond. Yeehaw.
I think that's trying to manufacture melodrama where none really exists. 99.9% of people aren't like Biden already. E.g. not in a position of massive celebrity power where every interaction is scrutinized, and having post "Mad Men" standards for personal conduct. I am never "all up in my head" about standing behind a woman I'm not intimate with and putting my hands on her shoulders because that's already about 3 miles outside what I'd consider doing before all this.
It's not really relevant to that point whether people are like Biden. I think we can agree there's a spectrum of people between Biden and "never touchers". If you're a "never toucher" then -- congrats -- there's no melodrama for you. If you're a Biden then things might have also just been on autopilot. The rest of us -- and it isn't 0.01% -- can have a bit of anxiety about this issue now.

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I'm also not that sympathetic with 2). That's part of celebrity. That's the drawback. If you want to be wildly famous and powerful, you're going to be scrutinized and there's going to be a cottage industry of "busy bodies" discussing you. It's always been that way. Always will be.

I don't have a problem with people discussing celebrities. There was more to the comment. It's this idea that they can work up a moral panic to where they can use social media to bully the celebrity involved that gives me pause. Think people talking about Obama's smoking versus people talking about Joe's touching. Similar, but yet a whole different world of dynamics going on.
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [Kay Serrar] [ In reply to ]
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Kay Serrar wrote:
One of the key words you used in your opening post was "unreasonable." There is a test of reasonableness in the complaint. Is it reasonable to object to the VP holding your shoulders, leaning in and smelling your hair and then softly kissing you on the back of the head? Especially when you have no close relationship with this person and they hold a position of power? I would argue that is a perfectly reasonable complaint. The test of reasonableness is used in the law often. Is it reasonable to complain that when a man shook your hand, he was being inappropriate? That doesn't seem like a reasonable complaint. So Biden's intent is still not the issue. Even if his intent was harmless, it was reasonable to complain about his actions. It's up to him to understand appropriate and inappropriate behavior, full stop.

Agreed. This sort of training went through Corporate America 20 years ago. Some of his behaviors cross a line that is actionable without being told by tye person that it is unwanted. He is smart person and must know this, but continues on. what is it that makes him do these things any other boss/politician would know is harassment.
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [SH] [ In reply to ]
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1.) A woman -- whom Joe Biden was helping at the time -- goes out of her way to torpedo his career by publicly airing complaints about him, even though she never said anything to Joe privately. I don't think we can overstate the size of the knife this woman drove into Biden's back.

This is the other one that bothers me. I'm not sure exactly how most workplace training on this sort of thing goes, but within the military, we train on how to address these issues if you are made to feel uncomfortable. The first step is always to talk about it with the person who made you feel uncomfortable. It's not to go to the media. I understand that VP Biden is in a pretty rare position where confronting him may be intimidating, but he is, by all reports, an approachable guy. These reports, while probably legitimate in that the women really did feel uncomfortable, reek of political maneuvering, not honest attempt to address grievance.

Slowguy

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Re: Intent vs Outcome [slowguy] [ In reply to ]
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slowguy wrote:
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1.) A woman -- whom Joe Biden was helping at the time -- goes out of her way to torpedo his career by publicly airing complaints about him, even though she never said anything to Joe privately. I don't think we can overstate the size of the knife this woman drove into Biden's back.

This is the other one that bothers me. I'm not sure exactly how most workplace training on this sort of thing goes, but within the military, we train on how to address these issues if you are made to feel uncomfortable. The first step is always to talk about it with the person who made you feel uncomfortable. It's not to go to the media. I understand that VP Biden is in a pretty rare position where confronting him may be intimidating, but he is, by all reports, an approachable guy. These reports, while probably legitimate in that the women really did feel uncomfortable, reek of political maneuvering, not honest attempt to address grievance.

I don’t disagree with that. The timing is clearly political here, at least with Flores.

That said, I don’t agree with those who criticize women who speak up about more serious sexual assault well after the event took place. There are many legitimate reasons why they may not have said anything at the time, but feel able to later.

Even in this situation with Biden, as more women speak up, others may feel more able to also, because they now know their stories are more likely to be believed.
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [Kay Serrar] [ In reply to ]
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That said, I don’t agree with those who criticize women who speak up about more serious sexual assault well after the event took place. There are many legitimate reasons why they may not have said anything at the time, but feel able to later.

Totally agree. However, when the speaking up comes timed with the man's career instead of the woman's personal journey I get suspicious.

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Even in this situation with Biden, as more women speak up, others may feel more able to also, because they now know their stories are more likely to be believed.

Sorry, but the "I was worried my story wouldn't be believed" defense doesn't hold much water in the case of Joe Biden. His behavior is totally documented. Really the only part of the story to be added and believed are the complainant's feelings.

Truthfully, I'm beginning to wonder if "being believed" is really the issue in these high profile cases. I think a description that often fits the facts better is that these women are worried their revelation won't cause maximum damage, and are just waiting for that particular opportunity to present itself.
Last edited by: SH: Apr 7, 19 6:18
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [SH] [ In reply to ]
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Truthfully, I'm beginning to wonder if "being believed" is really the issue in these high profile cases. I think a description that often fits the facts better is that these women are worried their revelation won't cause maximum damage, and are just waiting for that particular opportunity to present itself.

Many people do believe women, but sometimes not enough people care. See trump and the couple dozen accusations against him. I can easily imagine a woman seeing that and thinking that its pointless to come forward.




who's smarter than you're? i'm!
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [veganerd] [ In reply to ]
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veganerd wrote:
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Truthfully, I'm beginning to wonder if "being believed" is really the issue in these high profile cases. I think a description that often fits the facts better is that these women are worried their revelation won't cause maximum damage, and are just waiting for that particular opportunity to present itself.


Many people do believe women, but sometimes not enough people care. See trump and the couple dozen accusations against him. I can easily imagine a woman seeing that and thinking that its pointless to come forward.

Yes. I agree.

I can destroy the career of a man = worth it.
I will fail to destroy his career = not worth it.

It's hard to gauge sometimes before you start in.
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [SH] [ In reply to ]
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SH wrote:
veganerd wrote:
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Truthfully, I'm beginning to wonder if "being believed" is really the issue in these high profile cases. I think a description that often fits the facts better is that these women are worried their revelation won't cause maximum damage, and are just waiting for that particular opportunity to present itself.


Many people do believe women, but sometimes not enough people care. See trump and the couple dozen accusations against him. I can easily imagine a woman seeing that and thinking that its pointless to come forward.


Yes. I agree.

I can destroy the career of a man = worth it.
I will fail to destroy his career = not worth it.

It's hard to gauge sometimes before you start in.

the dichotomy is interesting: Machiavellian or Underdog being the two ends of the spectrum, the ones that get highlighted by people with greater agendas

and every theme and variation in between being the more likely truth
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [SH] [ In reply to ]
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SH wrote:
veganerd wrote:
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Truthfully, I'm beginning to wonder if "being believed" is really the issue in these high profile cases. I think a description that often fits the facts better is that these women are worried their revelation won't cause maximum damage, and are just waiting for that particular opportunity to present itself.


Many people do believe women, but sometimes not enough people care. See trump and the couple dozen accusations against him. I can easily imagine a woman seeing that and thinking that its pointless to come forward.

Yes. I agree.

I can destroy the career of a man = worth it.
I will fail to destroy his career = not worth it.

It's hard to gauge sometimes before you start in.

Is that what you think those who spoke up about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assaults were thinking?
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Re: Intent vs Outcome [veganerd] [ In reply to ]
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I seem to recall Nova having a preference for texting vs. calling

https://forum.slowtwitch.com/...d_date%3F__P6566003/
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