Saturday Waffling

(40 comments)

Well, I imagine come Sunday this will become the "let's discuss the Sherlock finale" thread. But since we need something until then, and about a dozen people have brought it up to me already, I suppose we may as well chat about the big Alan Moore interview that dropped on Thursday, complete with screeching broadsides against Grant Morrison and several other people.

Here it is, if you've not read it. If you have... thoughts?

I'd offer a comment, but it's already reached 80,000 words in length and I've only gotten up to talking about Alan Moore's short stories for 2000 AD, so I think I'll go to bed and finish it off in 2017 or so.

Comments

Iain Coleman 3 years, 8 months ago

As someone who doesn't particularly have a dog in any of the fights, I found the interview a splendid example of the consequences of pissing off someone with writing skills as finely honed as Alan Moore's.

His explanation of the prevalence of rape in his stories was interesting. I got the impression that he was startled (as most men are) to realise the sheer scale of sexual violence against women, and felt that to ignore it in his work which deals with all sorts of violence would be tantamount to colluding in the invisibility of this kind of violence.

Most of all, though, I was struck by his plea for people who criticise his work to at least realise that he has spent quite a lot of effort on considering these issues, and to spend as much effort on considering their criticisms. Whether Moore's defence of his work is ultimately convincing, or whether there are problems with it that he has failed to consider, it would at least be refreshing to get past the Tumblr caps-lock insta-rants that constitute the empty mass of most contemporary critique.

I've never been interested enough in reading any of Grant Morrison's books to know if I would agree with Moore's dismissal of them. My limited understanding of the man through connections in Scotland is not inconsistent with the character depicted by Moore in this interview.

As for Laura Sneddon, the story told by Moore rang true to me, based on my own interactions with journalists down the years. Ringing true is not the same as actually true, of course, and Sneddon has vigorously denied the claims. Her denials at the moment aren't much more than bluster and suggestions of lawsuits, of the kind that one often hears from people who have in fact been caught bang to rights. If she does indeed possess emails that vindicate her position, the best, cheapest, quickest and most reliable way of repairing the damage to her reputation would be to publish them (technically a breach of copyright, but who's going to sue?). Undertaking a lawsuit for defamation would be ill-advised, even if she is entirely blameless, unless she has much deeper pockets than the average freelance journalist.

Moore is quite hypocritical in criticising grown men and women for taking superhero comics seriously. He was in his thirties when he did Watchmen, the entire basis of which was taking superheroes seriously. If he thinks people should take a more critical attitude to these tales, fair enough, but his sneering at the very notion of a Batman critic suggests that his feelings are not so nuanced.

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Iain Coleman 3 years, 8 months ago

Oh, and with respect to this blog, it is interesting to see Dez Skinn emerge as the Gavrilo Princip of the Last War in Albion.

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Scott 3 years, 8 months ago

Not being familiar with the controversy or the (more recent) texts that have provoked it, I'll stay out of that one except to say that, while I've had my misgivings about Moore's work and his treatment of sexual violence in the past, and to some extent still do, he does at least give the impression of having given it a lot more thought and consideration than too-many other writers of whom the same can be said.

I will say this, however: When Alan Moore delivers the burn, it burns.

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Scott 3 years, 8 months ago

I can see his point about our current trend to retreat into childhood media of the past to escape the complexities of the present (including, yes, Doctor Who), but yes, someone who build the foundations of a very successful career on taking superhero comics seriously might wish to be more careful where he throws the stones in this particular greenhouse.

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Dave Lynch 3 years, 8 months ago

I think Alan Moore was right to keep his mouth shut.

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timber-munki 3 years, 8 months ago

I'm reminded of that great philiospher Harry Hill, I like Alan Moore and I like Grant Morrison, now which one's better, only one way to find out...

As a fan of both creators it's a shame we won't see a Moore/Quitely or Burnham project.

I found his opinion on the goliwog character from League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen and the issue of sexual violence in his work insightful, if only to demonstrate the difference between his carefully explained stance and Twitter posts that seem to be made with an eye to the crowd rather than engaging in any actual debate/conversation. (although of course Moore doesn't actually engage in such conversations, given that he's got stuff to do instead and doesn't have an internet connection apparently).

I suppose you could show him chapter 6 of Watchmen in response to his possibly overdeveloped opinion on Morrison but I don't think he'd appreciate the irony...

Between this and Morrison's lacklustre appearance on Radio 4's Chain Reaction this week I've become more convinced that it's healthy to have a seperation between art & the creator.

Ultimately this wasn't really an interview, it was more a way for Moore to get off his chest various things that had been concerning him and if this means he can concentrate on his writing then fair enough.

Depending on Morrison's response (or lack there of) we may be entering a Korean War like 'truce' period of the war.

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BerserkRL 3 years, 8 months ago

I can see his point about our current trend to retreat into childhood media of the past to escape the complexities of the present

I've never understood this idea, frankly. The present isn't more complex than the past. And childhood isn't easier than adulthood, just different. The stories we use to "escape" from the problems of adulthood aren't a retreat to childhood, they're the same sorts of stories we used to "escape" from the problems of childhood.

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John Nor 3 years, 8 months ago

So Alan Moore is asked those 2 questions by the interviewer, answers, and adds in other things, some of which is regarding Grant Morrison.

However, he's already said a lot of these things, and Grant Morrison has already replied the last time he said these things, mentioning the "demonstrable errors", a link to comicsbeat dot com 2012.

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G. 3 years, 8 months ago

"I understand that it may not be considered good form to suggest that class issues are as important as issues of race, gender or sexuality, despite the fact that from my own perspective they seem perhaps even more fundamental and crucially relevant. After all, while in the West after many years of arduous struggle we are now allowed to elect women, non-white people and even, surely at least in theory, people of openly alternative sexualities, I am relatively certain that we will never be allowed to elect a man or woman of any race or persuasion who is poor. "

-- Alan Moore

Thank you, Mr. Moore. I've respected you and admired you and been in awe of your talent for most of my life.

But I've never loved you as much as in this moment.

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Scott 3 years, 8 months ago

"The stories we use to "escape" from the problems of adulthood aren't a retreat to childhood, they're the same sorts of stories we used to "escape" from the problems of childhood."

But what's interesting, though, is that we increasingly seem to be using the stories we used to retreat from our childhood problems to "escape" our adult problems as well, rather than "escaping" from them using new stories. I'm generalising to an extent, of course, but just look at the amount of superhero comic book adaptations we're seeing at the cinema, or remakes of old childhood TV shows, or what have you. I mean, yes, the world has always been complex and difficult, childhood poses it's own issues to adulthood and, well, there's always been remakes and reboots and sequels, but I think there is something to Moore's point; we do increasingly seem to have thus urge to recreate and cling on to (to put in his admittedly rather dismissive terms) the media we enjoyed when we were twelve year olds rather than leave them to the past. And there has to be some reason for that.

I should also point out that I'm not saying this as something necessarily bad or to condemn, as Moore does; I like superhero movies, and as a Doctor Who fan (and one who tends to prefer the classic series -- i.e. the show I grew up on -- rather than the show of the present), it would be more than a little hypocritical for me to do so. But I think he does have something of a point nonetheless.

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Josiah Rowe 3 years, 8 months ago

When I asked Lance Parkin on Facebook for his take on the interview, this was his reply:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DGNZnfKYnU

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Dave Lynch 3 years, 8 months ago

I'd be interested in knowing whether Moore differentiates between "childlike" and "childish".

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Chinhead 3 years, 8 months ago

Hi John. I always thought that thing at The Beat was a joke, frankly. Morrison comes up with a list of dates, alibis, and contrivances to show that, actually, it was Moore copying him all along! And its all very plausible, logical, and very nearly true but not quite. 2 gems from memory - (there were many more) Morrison says he was an 'established' writer before Moore ever came on the scene. I'd say 'struggling' was a better description, as by the time Moore had stormed through Marvel UK, 2000ad, Warrior, been picked up by the Americans for Swamp Thing, and was halfway into Watchmen, Morrison was still writing Zoids. Also that 'Alan Moore COULDN'T have had anything to do with Vertigo because it wasn't even called Vertigo by the time he left DC, and saying he did is a great disservice to Karen Berger' Again, you couldn't say that Morrison was lying exactly, but its very clear that Moore WAS responsible for the British invasion and the formation of that imprint. Its certainly never been a problem for Karen Berger to admit. And, now I think about it, Morrison himself in the past! (the Amazing Heroes interview, I believe)

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John 3 years, 8 months ago

Morrison's point in the linked piece is certainly not that Moore was copying him all along. He has one paragraph where he says he could manipulate facts to make that argument, but that's obviously not what he's saying at all.

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John Nor 3 years, 8 months ago

Replying to Chinhead - if you (or anyone else) were to read the link to comicsbeat dot com 2012, then that is a much better reply to what you're saying than anything I could write for this comment.

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J Mairs 3 years, 8 months ago

... so it turns out Mary Morstan is River Song.

Heh.

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dm 3 years, 8 months ago

So, after the writer of the worst episode on NuWho ever writes the best episode of Sherlock ever, Moffatt reverts to that part in his career where he was trying to write The Dark Knight.

I must admit to not being a Sherlock fan- I've seen every episode, but it wasn't until The Empty Hearse that I started to really enjoy it. And Sign of Three really sealed the deal for me. This episode was a bit empty, motivations were... not really there. Not terrible, but it still beats large swathes of what we've seen so far.

Its biggest flaw really was not having a gag where Sherlock forgot Lestrade's first name- a highlight of both of the first two episodes of this season.

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reservoirdogs 3 years, 8 months ago

Doesn't Fear Her, The Doctor's Daughter, Love and Monsters, and the bits from Journey's End where the Doctor mind rapes Donna still exist?

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BerserkRL 3 years, 8 months ago

we increasingly seem to be using the stories we used to retreat from our childhood problems to "escape" our adult problems as well, rather than "escaping" from them using new stories

I'm not sure who "we" is. Most of the audience for these new comic-book movies never read the original comic books. Ditto for the Tolkien movies, Star Trek movies, etc. We geeks may be returning to our pasts with these movies, but most of the audience are not returning to theirs.

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BerserkRL 3 years, 8 months ago

Damn, that was good.

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BerserkRL 3 years, 8 months ago

So, those false-front buildings are right around the corner from 38 Queen's Gardens where Herbert Spencer used to live; I must have walked right by them when I was looking up Spencer's digs in 2004.

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BerserkRL 3 years, 8 months ago

And their false-frontness is apparent from above on Google Maps.

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dm 3 years, 8 months ago

But... Curse of the Black Spot, you know?

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Aidan Brockel 3 years, 8 months ago

Curse of the Black Spot is pretty bad... Moffatt didn't write that episode though.

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Anton B 3 years, 8 months ago

I enjoyed it a lot but I can't help thinking those glamorously facaded false fronted buildings may be a metaphor for the whole show.

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dm 3 years, 8 months ago

But Stephen Thompson did, which is what I was getting at.

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Deep Space Transmissions 3 years, 8 months ago

Regardless of whether you'd pick 'struggling' or 'established' as the correct descriptor for Morrison's career prior to his work at DC, he'd still managed a decent body of published work by 87/88 and certainly wasn't an 'aspiring' writer as Moore has it. He'd also undertaken a significant body of work for the major players of the UK comics scene that, while comissioned and paid for, didn't make it to publication, including various strips for David Lloyd's unpublished Fantastic Adventure comic alongside fellow 'rising stars' John Smith and Jamie Delano.

I think Alan Moore is confusing the timing of his "recommendation" of Morrison to Berger and is actually referring to Karen Berger and Dick Giordano's trip to the UK in 87/88 rather than the establishment of Vertigo in '93 - a confusion which Morrison, for one reason or another, sticks with and soundly rebuffs rather than correcting, confusing the issue still further. It's a pretty safe bet that Moore had cut all ties with DC by '93 and had nothing at all to do with recommending anybody for the Vertigo line.

If this is the case then is Moore right in remembering that he did recommend Morrison to Karen Berger, but prior to that UK trip? I'd be inclined to think probably not, at least not in any substantial way. Morrison has mentioned in past interviews that it was actually David Lloyd who recommended him to DC, and given that Morrison had actually undertaken paid writing work for Lloyd, this seems much more likely than Moore directing DC to pursue a writer from whom he'd apparently read only one 8 page chapter of a 2000 AD serial that he thought highly derivative of his own work.

Why neither party has (recently) mentioned Lloyd's part in all of this, I have no idea.

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J Mairs 3 years, 8 months ago

In what way is Curse of the Black Spot bad?

I can remember the responses on GallifreyBase being that it was a lacklustre episode (which I disagree with) but since then this seems to have escalated to turn the episode into an unmitigated disaster and an utter abomination.
Is this solely down to the missing-during-editing pirate, or is there something more there?

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J Mairs 3 years, 8 months ago

I agree.

The glamorous facade masks the fact that the things which you're seeing may not necessarilly be the things that you think you are seeing. That if you examine things closely, you may be able to deduce that there is more going on below the surface.

:)

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Spoilers Below 3 years, 8 months ago

I've linked to this before, but Abhay Kholsa absolutely eviscerates Morrison's annotations with annotations of his own, about halfway down, past the comic reviews: http://www.tcj.com/things-dont-look-so-bright-and-chummy-round-here/

"The annotations began with an introduction by Morrison hagiographer Laura Sneddon: “While Moore has previously spoken out about his thoughts on Morrison in various interviews, Morrison has generally kept quiet on the issue.” Among many other things, this utter horseshit overlooks the sizable portion of the article that follows recounting the time Grant Morrison, in the documentary film of his life story, spoke at length about Moore. Specifically, Morrison claimed Moore sent him a sinister letter threatening to end his comics career (and which story was wholly unaccompanied by visual evidence of the actual letter in question, the specific text therefrom, corroboration from any other people who had seen the letter, and so on).

"But except for the part where his feud with Moore was prominently explained by Morrison in Morrison: Under the Cherry Moon, mum has been the word– mum, not the bird, mum is the word, the word is not bird. ”Grant Morrison has been so quiet about Alan Moore,” Laura Sneddon declared, forgetting her own interview with Morrison from the distant mists of September 2012 in which Morrison defended his corporate benefactors at DC Comics from Moore’s criticism of their handling of Watchmen: “I don’t understand how you could get yourself into the position where you don’t own [a comic] and you’re angry about it.”

"Still, to be fair, Morrison has only talked about his feelings about Moore on paper and on screen, but as of time of press, has yet to mount a Broadway musical about his feelings about Alan Moore featuring Julie Taymor African headmasks."

[...]

"1) Moore recalls having met Morrison while the latter was an “aspiring comics writer.”

Morrison angrily retorts that he was not an aspiring comic writer because he first began working in comics in 1978, before Moore’s career had commenced; that he had a comic strip in three whole newspapers, and thus was hardly aspiring; that yes, Alan Moore “galvanized” him but that’s he grown tired, tired of this idea that Alan Moore was influential because he was just merely galvanizing not… Galvanizing is not a big deal because, like… Hey, Peter Milligan would have had a career even if Alan Moore never existed, and Bryan Talbot would have, and George Bailey could have had booze and hookers galore in Pottersville, and– and– Grant Morrison was submitting ideas for crossovers to DC in 1982, and… Billy Jean King beat Bobby Riggs, she beat him, so this whole male privilege can go and… And Mister Gorbachev, tear down that wall, and … And yeah, it’s already torn down but in 1981, Grant Morrison made a mini-comic about the wall coming down, which is really the foundation of Alan Moore’s whole … And five other things!

"Note: in addition to that comic strip in three newspapers, Wikipedia lists about nine stories Morrison had published from 1978 to 1985, none that include the work he is remembered for at the moment. Alan Moore’s bibliography during that time period is too long for me to sit and count."

[...]

"0)Morrison angrily complains he met Moore on more than one occasion, so we now know that surely, Alan Moore’s entire life is a lie because who could ever possibly forget having met Grant Morrison for a few minutes at the Quids Inn in Scarborough in 1981.

"-1) Morrison angrily complains that Alan Moore has omitted from a webchat response the fact that Morrison handed Alan Moore a copy of a zine Morrison had made, or to put it another way, Morrison angrily complains that Alan Moore didn’t talk about the time he acted as a bridge between Grant Morrison and a trash can."

It's brutal stuff. I like both writer's work, but my opinion of Morrison has been steadily dropping since the early 2000s...

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Matthew Blanchette 3 years, 8 months ago

"Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" is FAR worse, in my opinion...

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liminal fruitbat 3 years, 8 months ago

The main problem I can remember is the pirate captain's threat to hand Amy over to his crew followed swiftly by everyone being friends and the whole thing being forgotten about. Plus a forgettable subplot involving an adorable child and a man struggling with his role as a father that aims at engaging and lands squarely in saccharine, but that's hardly unique to Spot.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years, 8 months ago

Sticking strictly to the question of Moore "recommending" Morrison to Berger, I don't think Moore has ever actually asserted that it was at a time other than 87/88. The only time he's mentioned Vertigo as such is in the Pekar chat, in a line transcribed as:

"- It was on that basis that I recommended him to Karen Berger when she was starting [indecipherable speech - Vertigo?]. -"

My recollection of the chat, and I'll check it when I get to this part in the War, of course, is that Moore said something along the lines of "she was starting what would eventually become Vertigo." That would presumably refer to the 87/88 period. 1988 fits with the later interview, where he says he'd just recommended Neil Gaiman (leading to Black Orchid, one assumes). Which also makes sense with his "I was still on good terms with at least Karen Berger" line. That timing also fits with his reading what is obviously Zenith. So I don't see any compelling evidence that Moore ever suggested this happened in 1993 or for Vertigo directly.

The question of why Moore would recommend someone whose work he wasn't fond of is, of course, still present, but it's not hard to imagine questions where Moore would bring Morrison up as a writer with "buzz" that he's not particularly fond of, but who might deserve a chance on something. A tepid recommendation, to be sure, and one imagines not the reason Morrison got the job, but I think Moore's point is more that Moore had been nothing but nice to Morrison at the point in Morrison's career when Morrison began, as he admits in Supergods, criticizing Moore's work as a shock tactic.

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BerserkRL 3 years, 8 months ago

So how many Sherlock variants do we have in the series now? Mycroft, Mary, Moriarty, Magnusson, Irene Adler (whose name strangely fails to begin with M), and I guess we can throw in the cabbie from Study in Pink. London is just filled with brilliant sociopaths, innit?

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dm 3 years, 8 months ago

I suppose "worst" is really hyperbolic. I just remember a singular lack of imagination, and that boring trick of reducing the magic and epic into uninteresting science fiction, ala Underworld. It was just... offensively unremarkable? A series of dull action adventure scenes and unsuspenseful moments of suspense (if you don't care about the fate of the guest characters, and you don't take the threat to the regulars seriously, a suspenseful build up is quickly reduced to simply marking time) ticking by until the 'neat' sci fi twist is revealed. A hollow shell of a plot (though I bet Jane can reveal some hitherto unnoticed symbolic brilliance that will make me completely reevaluate the episode), emblematic of what I find to be wrong with the majority of the poorer nuWho stories. Other weak stories along these lines, such as The Doctor's Daughter, were usually redeemed in my estimation by comic timing (Donna, always) or (especially in the Davies era) the liberal application of heavy, double-thick, dollops of clotted camp.

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Anton B 3 years, 8 months ago

I'd call that a redemptive reading of my comment. I was thinking more along the lines of a cleverly constructed and attractively appointed shell containing an empty space.

Which is in no way meant as a negative observation. This series of Sherlock has been my favourite so far. (Apart from the stunning debut episode which deserves praise for the way it raised the bar of TV drama direction and design.) but the only depth it achieves is in its appropriation and subversion of Doyle's original narratives. Its highly entertaining and jokey meta-fictional conceits are only ever decoration and artifice.

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Iain Coleman 3 years, 8 months ago

Living opposite Canary Wharf, as I do, I see huge buildings full of them whenever I go out my front door.

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Ross 3 years, 8 months ago

Is that counting Torchwood One and Christopher Lee as the reincarnation of the Pharoah Rameses?

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Scott 3 years, 8 months ago

Who's talking about just the comic books, though -- have only geeks ever watched cartoons with Batman or Spider-Man or the X-Men? Did only geeks play with Transformers or GI Joe?

Geeks mostly form the hardcore fandoms surrounding these texts, true, but let's be honest here; it's not as if the wider population grew up on the works of Proust and the films of Truffaut and only geeks knew about any of this stuff. These properties aren't completely unheard of or obscure; they've been part of people's childhoods and cultural knowledge for generations. Most people just drifted away after a certain point, but a lot of people kind of seem to be drifting back.

And in any case, surely the fact that properties that were once considered the reserve of the hardcore fan crowds are now increasingly gaining mainstream acceptance has some significance?

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SpaceSquid 3 years, 8 months ago

It might have been nice if Moore's call for people to realise how deeply he's considered his positions and resulting work hadn't come in the same interview where he argues not wanting white writers to try redeeming racist cariactures of black people is functionally equivalent to demanding no writer makes use of characters from a racial background other than their own. If you're going to be sniffy about other people's arguments, you gotta bring something more to the tablet than lazy false equivalences (see also "Don't these people realise murder is worse than rape?").

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